French Ligue 1: A new era for AS Monaco Football Club?

Published: June 20, 2013
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AS Monaco have upped their game. They even secured the services of well known Columbian striker Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid for £60 million. PHOTO: AFP

AS Monaco have upped their game. They even secured the services of well known Columbian striker Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid for £60 million. PHOTO: AFP AS Monaco FC supporters cheer at the return of the club to Ligue 1. PHOTO: REUTERS

Money, top class football, and talented football players – these are some of the things that French side Association Sportive de Monaco, or simply AS Monaco, is now known for. The team which was relegated two seasons ago from the French Ligue 1 has come back with relish after spending two seasons in the lower division of French football.

Having been relegated following the 2010-11 season, Monaco struggled to clinch first place in their first season of the Ligue 2 of the 2011-12 season. However, in the 2012-13 season AS Monaco came back ten times stronger to dominate the Ligue 2 contenders claiming the title and hence gaining a valuable promotion back to first class French football.

The already seven-time Ligue 1 champion had been out of notice due to their poor run of form and performance over the past three years. They were recognised all over the world for their commendable performance in Ligue 2 during the last season and it seemed as if they could put up a fight for a mid-table finish in the Ligue 1 the following season. However, they still did not pose a threat to teams such as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), the current champions of Ligue 1.

This was until their chairman, renowned Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, ensured that his team made it to the headlines. After doing successful business in Russia and other parts of the world, Rybolovlev invested a great amount of money into AS Monaco in 2011, and it can now be said that their stay in the Ligue 1 is inevitable. The team sure did leave many mouths hanging with current ground breaking transfers!

Moreover, the world was shocked to hear the first two transfers secured by the team. The deadly duo James Rodriguez and João Moutinho of FC Porto were signed by Monaco for a whopping £60 million. But this wasn’t the end of the extravagant spending saga for the management. They even secured the services of well known and desired Columbian striker Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid for £60 million again. Besides these staggering transfers, they also managed to lure Ricardo Carvalho, a well known defender, to join them for a free transfer.

With these outstanding players already within their squad, no doubt remains that Monaco has turned into a formidable force. Serious contenders for the Ligue 1 title and even an expected return to Champions League football after next season, they now pose an enormous threat to French champions PSG. That said, we still do not know if this is the end of their massive summer spending spree. They can also capitalise on the unstable stance of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, and bring him in to add to their star studded squad.

Parallels can even be drawn from the purchase of English team Manchester City by the Abu Dhabi United group. From purchasing the team in 2008, the financial backing by the group had many stars filling up the squad expeditiously. This led to them reaching the Champions League in 2011 and winning the Premier League title in 2012, their first league title in 44 years.

However, Real Madrid is another team that has been involved with impressive transfers over the past decade, but it has barely worked out well for them. With the likes of iconic players such as Raul, Figo, Zidane, Beckham and the Brazilian Ronaldo previously employed, they had failed to achieve substantial glory. In recent times they had brought in renowned stars such as Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil, but once again their position hasn’t elevated them from a familiar path.

With these mammoth transfers, the 2013-14 season is awaited eagerly. It really should be a cracker of a season for French football, which has lost most of its shine in recent years. It would be interesting to see how these top stars collaborate to achieve success for Monaco and if they can do the impossible in reaching the Champions League in just their first season after returning to Ligue 1.

The million dollar question stands: can money really buy success? Or will it just buy a pretty dog, but not the wag of its tail? Only AS Monaco can answer that in the following season.

Hasan Aziz

Hasan Abdul Aziz

A 15-year-old who is completing his 11th grade at a private education institution

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.