Monaco bound? Could Falcao really be on his way to the South of France this summer?
Hold on to your seats everybody, as the summer transfer merry-go-round is set to get under way soon with an almighty bang as reports have started to emanate (via 101 Great Goals) out of Spain that coveted Atletico de Madrid front man Radamael Falaco is on the verge of signing for AS Monaco.
Reliable Spanish TV station La Sexta claimed on Thursday night that the much sought-after Colombia international had agreed terms on an eye-catching €60 million transfer to mega-rich Ligue 2 side AS Monaco, with the 27-year-old due to earn a whopping €10m per season.
And, with foreign imports at the Principality outfit not subject to France’s draconian 75 percent rate of income tax on high earners, that is one nice pay day if you can get it and you can therefore understand just why the red-hot attacker may be tempted by such a move.
Falcao has, of course, previously been linked with a possible end-of-season switch to the likes of Premier League champions Manchester United , UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea (via the Daily Express) and big-spending duo Manchester City (via the Metro) or Paris Saint-Germain (via the Daily Mirror), and so football fans around the globe could be forgiven for being sceptical about this latest story.
However, they should not be, as Monaco are a club that are going places, and fast, under the guidance of their new billionaire Russian owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, despite currently still being in the second tier of French football.
Rybolovlev bought a majority stake (66.67%) in the seven-time French top-flight champions back in December 2011, immediately vowing to plough £84m into the then ailing outfit over the course of the next four years.
"I am a passionate football fan," said Rybolovlev upon completing a deal for the club.
"I think this club has enormous potential. I hope it can now realise this potential, both domestically and in Europe."
And in the intervening 18 months the man who is ranked at No 93 on the Forbes rich list has tried to be as good as his word as Monaco, under the management of veteran Italian head coach Claudio Ranieri, have risen from the depths of Ligue 2 and the verge of extinction to being within touching distance of a return to the top level of French football.
"Having lived long enough in Monaco, I realise the club is not just one of the principality's sports teams but also represents one of the main symbols of the principality, its pride and traditions," was how Rybolovlev viewed the importance of his acquisition to the people of Monaco back when he first purchased the club.
But how can the 46-year-old afford to lure world superstars of the calibre of a Falcao to a club that at present are not even playing in the French top flight? Well, quite simply by paying more than any of his competitors in Planet Football are prepared to, and considerably more too.
Rybolovlev, do not forget, did sell his stake in fertiliser manufacturer Uralkali for a mere £4.1 billion in June 2012 and has since been splashing the cash both at his principal home in the Côte d'Azur, as well as at his second residence in New York.
In the former, he owns a huge mansion as well as the now obligatory, if you are a Russian oligarch that is, 165-foot yacht on the sea front, while in the latter his £55m apartment overlooking Central Park is the most expensive in the city.
Oh, and then there is Donald Trump’s former residence in Florida, Maison de L'Amitié with its 18 bedrooms and a private beach, which he acquired for just £62m in 2008, so you start to get the picture.
And, in the past 12 months or so various stories have been doing the rounds across the Continent linking Monaco with a whole range of big-name players and coaches, including a trio from recently-dethroned Premier League champions City.
First Roberto Mancini’s name (via the Guardian) was being floated around as a possible candidate to replace Ranieri in the Principality this time last year as the City’s title charge appeared to be hitting the buffers, and then this season both France midfield player Samir Nasri and Argentina international Carlos Tevez (via Goal.com) have also been heavily linked with big-money moves across the Channel.
Will Falcao be a Monaco player next season?
And then only just this past week, veteran Chelsea star Frank Lampard (via the Daily Mirror) was being targeted for a possible reunion with the man who first brought him to Stamford Bridge in 2001, Ranieri.
Now, if Rybolovlev was prepared to offer Mancini a staggering £6.4m per year plus bonuses to swap Eastlands for the Stade Louis II, a salary that would incidentally have made the Italian the third-highest-paid coach in world football behind Carlo Ancelotti at PSG and Guus Hiddink at Anzhi Makhachkala, then make no mistake about it, a reported €10m (£8.4m) per year for the world’s deadliest penalty-box striker would be like spare change down the back of the sofa for the Russian.
One slight note of caution, however, to all this is the recent French Football Federation ruling which stated that Monaco must relocate their headquarters to France, meaning an end to their privileged tax exemption status, with their proposed wave of big-money summer foreign recruits all therefore set to be stung by a 40% income tax rate on their whopping salaries.
Now, that could be a real spanner in the works to any potential deal for Falcao et al ….