The European transfer window isn't even open for another month, but the biggest summer signing may have already happened. French club AS Monaco, newly-promoted to Ligue 1, have bought Colombian striker Radamel Falcao from Spanish side Atletico Madrid for somewhere between 45 and 60 million euros. Monaco, which we must repeat, were just fucking promoted to the top French League, fought off England sides Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and just about every single one of the world's top clubs for Falcao, who's thought by many to be the best forward in the world. How the hell did that happen?
Money, of course. The transfer fee is the largest in the league's history. Russian billionaire businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the club in December 2011, and has been throwing money around to get the storied club back to the top of Ligue 1. Just last week, he bought James Rodriguez and João Moutinho from FC Porto for a combined €70 million. Atletico Madrid wasn't going to turn down over €60 million for Falcao, and Falcao wasn't going to turn down the five-year contract, worth €14 million a year. And it's Monaco, so that's €14 million after taxes. There are also rumors that he got part-ownership of the club in the deal.
This is a game-changer for the French league, and maybe for the entire continent. Ligue 1 is the weakest of the more popular European leagues (which include England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) and the only team that can match them dollar-for-dollar now is French champion Paris Saint-Germain. Falcao bookended his career-best season by scoring a hat trick in the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea to start the season last August, and helping Atletico defeat Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey two weeks ago. He scored 28 goals in 34 La Liga games this year. The boy can play. It's a good bet that AS Monaco will finish near the top of the table next year and qualify for the 2014-2015 Champions League.
But more important, it shows other clubs around the world—and maybe more importantly, the world's top players— that AS Monaco isn't fucking around. Many teams, like Manchester City, for example, that hit the lottery of having a billionaire tycoon stumble into their back office still have a lot of work to do. Usually there are multiple stages to the revamping process. City had to waste ungodly money on second-tier big names like Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor to build up the clout and resume to then go after bona fide world-class players like Sergio Agüero and the rest. AS Monaco, with seven league titles, is actually one of the most successful French teams historically, but have been in Ligue 2 since 2011. They skipped the first stage of the revamping process. All teams are on notice: AS Monaco is here.
Well, almost here. It'll be another year, minimum, before we see Falcao's side take on the Bayerns and Barcelonas of the world in continental play, which is why it doesn't make a ton of sense why Monaco would be all that intriguing to Falcao. He likely would've been able to name his price anywhere he went. Perhaps he believes Rybolovlev is going to turn the side into a juggernaut. Perhaps with the Falcao signing, Rybolovlev already has.
This won't be the last AS Monaco signing of the summer, and the club has quickly become one of the most intriguing in the sport. So until more news comes in, feel free to busy yourself with this for now: