Paris Saint-Germain's financial hegemony in France might be over, because a new competitor has arrived.
AS Monaco's promotion to Ligue 1 has prompted a remarkable spending spree which, by the end of this week, will include the €60m (£51.3m) purchase of Atletico Madrid's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, so coveted by Chelsea and Manchester City. The Porto pair Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez have already been secured for a reported €70m, along with veteran defender Ricardo Carvalho.
One year on from PSG's signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Ezequiel Lavezzi and others, the landscape of French football is being changed again. Only one French side has won the European Cup, but the country now has arguably the two richest clubs on the continent. Certainly the two billionaire-backed clubs dwarf far more traditional and well-supported French sides such as Marseilles, Lyons and Saint Étienne.
But while those teams were powerless to stop PSG running away with the domestic title, there is some resistance to Monaco's return to Ligue 1 next season.
The principality, of course, is a tax haven which is one of the reasons – along with the billions of Russian majority shareholder Dmitry Rybolovlev – why they are able to persuade very good players to join a team whose average attendance last season ranked somewhere between that of Southend United and Port Vale.
So the Ligue 1 clubs tried to restrict Monaco's entry to the top flight unless they moved their headquarters to France to register for French tax.
When the French Football Federation stepped in to mediate, they proposed that Monaco would not have to move to France if they paid €200m over the next seven years to make up for their lack of tax. But the club is now challenging this in the French courts as being contrary to the tax convention between France and Monaco made in 1963.
However it turns out, Monaco are seemingly here to stay. Sporting director, Vadim Vasilyev, said that they "want to build a beautiful team who play beautiful football" and they are certainly assembling a handy side. Moutinho, Rodriguez, Falcao and Carvalho are rather better players than most newly promoted teams can sign. They are closely associated with Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes. Given the money on offer, the location and the fact that Monaco will probably be playing in the Champions League in 2014-15, a few more will probably arrive soon.
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes, coming to the end of his time at the Nou Camp, is likely to be the next to join after Falcao, and Eric Abidal could well go the same way. Mendes clients Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria have also been linked with a move should they be victims of the changes at Real Madrid this summer.
So Europe now has another financial giant, unimaginably wealthy thanks to a foreign owner. It may take a few years, but the top table of, first, French, and then Continental football, should make room for another diner.
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