What does the future hold for Monaco if Radamel Falcao follows James Rodriguez to Real Madrid?
Last summer when Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev opened his chequebook and signed James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho and Radamel Falcao, the future at the Monegasque club looked extremely bright. Now James has moved on to Real Madrid and there is a dark shadow hanging over the club’s project.
Falcao has been linked with joining his Colombian team-mate in Madrid, as reported by Andy Hunter of The Guardian, and if the striker was to move, it would all but end Monaco’s attempt to challenge Paris Saint-Germain for the title.
However, les Rouges et Blanc are not completely devoid of alternative talent, and there would be a bright future for the club, just not at the same level that Rybolovlev originally envisioned.
During his 12 months in France, Falcao has actually only played 19 games for AS Monaco; he has scored 10 goals, but seven of them came in his first seven appearances. That leaves him with a record of three goals (link in French) in his last 12 games for the club.
That is not the sort of record that is going to fire Monaco any closer to PSG. This summer was supposed to be when Monaco used their slight advantage over the champions with regard to the Financial Fair Play rules and closed the gap on their title rivals.
However, their Russian billionaire owner seems to have developed cold feet after a court case with his ex-wife may end up costing him around $4.4 billion, as per the Daily Mail. This would cut his fortune in half and has possibly stopped a similar spending spree that saw Monaco launch themselves up the league table last season.
This summer they completed a permanent move for Aymen Abdennour from Toulouse and signed promising young midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Rennes. Both are good long-term moves but not game-changing. Maarten Stekelenburg arrives on loan, but the goalkeeper is unlikely to make a huge impact in the club's fortunes.
Losing Falcao would be a huge loss to the club's reputation and it would hinder them in the type of players they would be able to attract. If you can sell your club to potential signings on the fact that they get to play with one of European football’s deadliest strikers, it can lure bigger and brighter names.
Saying goodbye to Falcao would take away a lot of the club's current prestige.
It would not be the end of the world, though. Monaco and new coach Leandro Jardim have a squad full of talented players. Layvin Kurzawa, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Lucas Ocampos, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Anthony Martial are five extremely talented young players, and they would be welcomed into most of the top clubs in Europe.
If Monaco are to say goodbye to Falcao, they still have the talent to become one of the strongest teams in Ligue 1. Their level doesn’t need to be up there with PSG, but they can follow the projects of Lille, Marseille, Lyon and Saint-Etienne.
They would easily be able to develop the club into a top French side, without the need to invest as heavily as they did last summer. Continue to produce young exciting talent and they will still have the capital under Rybolovlev to invest when the time is right.
It may not be on another €60 million striker, but even spending around €10 million on a player puts them above any other side outside of the French capital.
Jardim also has the experience of Ricardo Carvalho, Jeremy Toulalan and Dimitar Berbatov to help nurture the young players they have. Characters of their standing are knowledgeable in most situations around European football and will be invaluable to Monaco in this new era.
At the end of the 2010/11 season, Monaco were relegated to Ligue 2. It took them two seasons to win back promotion and looked unlikely without Rybolovlev’s investment. In the 10 seasons before their drop (link in French) to the second division, Monaco only finished in the top five on three occasions and averaged an eighth-place finish.
They won the Ligue 1 title in the 1999/00 season and that was certainly their peak. Monaco have never consistently been one of France’s top clubs, but they now have a chance to achieve that. Stability would be a new thing for this glamorous club. If they could finish in the top three for the next five years, this would be a huge accomplishment for the owners of AS Monaco.
Having marquee players like Falcao and James does wonders for the league and helps advertise the product, but if the Colombian striker does leave Monaco, it is not the end of the world. It could send the club on a journey to firmly establish itself as one of France’s top clubs and build a future and not become just another flash in the pan.