Radamel Falcao Finding Monaco Exit Harder to Engineer Than His Arrival

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Radamel Falcao Finding Monaco Exit Harder to Engineer Than His Arrival
Matt Dunham/Associated Press

When Radamel Falcao moved to Monaco from Atletico Madrid in 2013, he was just beginning to enjoy his newly earned status as one of the best forwards in the world.

Twelve months on, he waits anxiously in the principality, unsure whether a top side in Europe will decide he is worth taking on loan before the summer transfer window slams shut.

How did the 28-year-old end up in this situation? Partly it is a result of the fee being demanded to loan his services for a year, an issue almost all modern deals stall over for at least some time. ESPN's Miguel Delaney reported that the French club are asking for €20 million (£15.9 million), which would be a notable permanent fee for a player, let alone a one-year rental.

While such details are hard to ascertain, it would almost certainly be a record fee for such a temporary arrangement.

Partly also it is a consequence of injury. Cruciate ligament damage is one of the most feared injuries in the game, and the Colombian is still working his way back to full fitness after missing the World Cup due to an untimely rupture of his anterior cruciate.

While he seems fit again now, scoring in Monaco’s 1-0 win over Nantes at the weekend, managers and their chairmen will want more assurances than usual when there are eight-figure fees being bandied about.

Nevertheless, the main reason Falcao finds himself in limbo, for the next few days at least, is due to the influences and whims of those around.

One of the most prominent recent examples of a player being third-party owned and/or invested in, Falcao made a lot of money for those businessmen who had speculated on his talent earlier in his career (and a little bit of money for his former club, Atletico Madrid) when he moved to the Ligue 1 side for a reported £50 million fee last summer (as explained in this Grantland article).

Indeed, that was the main reason he went to Monaco; they may not have been the most attractive of his suitors, but they could pay the biggest fee of them all—and thus return the biggest profit to investors. In 2013, Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev was happy to spend big to make his team the best in France, making Falcao the centrepiece of his ambitions alongside the likes of James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho.

All were paid well—thanks in part to Monaco’s favourable income-tax laws—and all brought profits to third parties (Rodriguez and Moutinho both came from FC Porto, Falcao’s old club—one at the forefront of this new operating model).

But was the move really the best for their careers?

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

At the time, the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea were supposedly keen on signing Falcao. Now it is hoped the former will "rescue him" from Monaco, having already lured compatriot Rodriguez away after his breakthrough World Cup, although the likes of Arsenal and Juventus have also been linked, as reported by Bleacher Report's Guillem Balague.

"I'm very happy to be here,” Falcao insisted, per ESPNFC's Ian Holyman, after his match-winning performance against Nantes. “It's a pleasure to play in this team, and I hope to stay here."

Those words convinced few. With Rybolovlev embroiled in an expensive divorce and seemingly less committed to financing the club as he previously did, the club’s aspirations have diminished as a consequence. With Rodriguez gone and the club choosing not to strengthen noticeably this summer, Monaco look unlikely to mount a strong title challenge in Ligue 1 this term.

They are in the Champions League—in a group that includes Benfica, Zenit St. Petersburg and Bayer Leverkusen—but are few people’s favourites to make a dent on the latter stages.

If Falcao wants to win trophies this season, he will need to move. But with reports indicating that Real Madrid are retreating from their previous strong interest in the forward, it remains to be seen if another club will step up and pay the fee being demanded.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

The injury sustained by Olivier Giroud—one that will keep him out until January—would seem to make Arsenal obvious suitors for Falcao, but it seems Wenger will look to strengthen in other departments, but not that one.

"We have Yaya Sanogo, we have Alexis Sanchez, we have Theo Walcott, we have Lukas Podolski," Wenger said, per The Independent's Tom Sheen. "We have shown in the last two seasons that if there are [players to buy], we will do it. The last few days [of the transfer window] are like poker games."

Falcao now finds himself a card in these poker games. He may end up at Real Madrid—presumably his preferred option—or he may be forced to remain with Monaco, a club whose owner now appears to be backtracking aggressively from his previous grand ambitions.

If that happens, in all likelihood it will end up being something of a wasted season for a player that, at 28, should be entering his prime.

 

It is a situation that should be of note to any player whose rights are wholly or partly owned by third parties. When businessmen become involved, their short-term interests can become more important than the long-term good for the individual at the heart of it all.

It seems increasingly likely that the Monaco phase of Falcao’s career will be looked on as one that made him, and those around him and in control of him, very rich—but did nothing to enrich a career that previously appeared on the verge of far greater feats.

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