• Friday, December 01, 2023
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Meet me in Monaco!


Clubs have their peaks and troughs. Sometimes the almost inevitable slump can be interminable. It is like a cycle, but the beauty is that most clubs tend to find their groove again, although it has to be said that some don’t manage to reclaim that high. Where is Red Star Belgrade today?

Money plays a huge role in the ability of clubs to hug the sun for long periods or reach for it once more. Chelsea, Man City were almost always never good enough until Roman Abramovic and Sheik Mansour swaggered into town. Paris Saint Germain also experienced a revival when they suddenly found themselves rolling in money, and were able to snag top stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Thiago Silva and a world class manager like Carlo Ancelotti. The outcome? They’re French champions.

It’s in this light that the resurgence in Monaco elicits interest. The club which recently got back to the French top flight is now funded by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Since the Russian came into town, Monaco have spent over £110m and are having one of the most active summers of any club.

Their biggest coup of all was in snatching of Radamel Falcao from under the noses of far bigger outfits like Real Madrid, City and Chelsea who also coveted the gifted Colombian, arguably the best forward in world football. Why Monaco is another matter altogether but suffice to say that signing Falcao is a huge declaration of intent by the French side. Beside Falcao, James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho and former Real man Ricardo Carvalho have also joined the Monaco gravy train.

But beyond all this is the fact that Monaco appear to just be warming up. It came out recently that they are ready to make a world record €100m (£85m) bid for Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. While it may be a different proposition trying to prise Ronaldo from Madrid, the audacity of it all again underlines the intent of the club.

Monaco are also keen on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and Newcastle’s Ben Arfa after their attempt to lure Vincent Kompany was rebuffed by City. Barcelona’s Victor Valdez was a target before the shot stopper decided on another season at the Catalan giants. Real Madrid left back Fabio Coentrao is also another prospect being targeted by Monaco. The list seems endless.

Manager Claudio Ranieri is a huge admirer of Claudio Marchisio, having coached him during his time as boss of Juventus and the side is prepared to bid in the region of €30m for the Italy international. Juventus boss Antonio Conte has made it clear he is not interested in any offers, but you can never say never in these matters. Even Milan’s Kevin Prince Boateng and Stephan El Sharaawy have also been linked with the French side.

Howbeit, Ranieri who led the team to the Ligue 2 title can now rest easy after rumours that he may be sacked were laid to rest. The Italian has admitted, however, that he knows a slow start next season will cost him his job. With the demand of not only winning but also playing beautiful football while at it, the pressure will certainly be on and he will need to hit the ground running.

Whatever happens before the season starts in terms of bringing in more players, this will go down as the most remarkable summer in the history of Monaco. They have spent huge amount on world-class players whom it was unimaginable that they would be able to sign just months ago.

This must be seen for what it is: a declaration of intent on the part of the club. And although they may have said that they are only aiming for a Europa League spot next season, it won’t be too ambitious to also dream of the Ligue 1 title, even if privately.

Monaco have certainly proved themselves off the pitch with the signing of some world class players, but they must now do the same on the field. And that is the real test.