You can explain Ricardo Carvalho moving to Ligue 1 in the twilight of his career. You can even explain Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s move to PSG, one of the top clubs in France, with a place in the Champions League. But how do you possibly explain Falcao, possibly the most wanted striker in the world, moving to AS Monaco, a newly promoted top-flight club with an average attendance of around 5000?
Falcao has everything that you would like in a striker. Pace, acceleration, power and an impeccable eye for goal. But why is he, at the peak of his career, moving to France to play for a team that still has no shot at any kind of glory despite having the chance to play for Europe’s elite?
Possibly. But, the major factor that has decided Falcao’s move to AS Monaco is his third-party ownership.
The scenario is simple. Falcao, in 2009, wanted to move out of South America. When moving from River Plate to Porto, Falcao became a property of a group named Doyen Sports, which from that moment onwards owned a 55% stake in him. Later, Doyen Sports wanted its man to become even more profitable. Hence, it even lent Atletico Madrid money so that they could buy Falcao.
So, what has happened now is, Doyen Sports had invested too much in Falcao. They have made money available for his transfers and they have paid additional wages to him. They desperately wanted to cash him out for a profit before that could become impossible. The clubs that could offer that kind of money for Doyen Sports and Falcao are very few. PSG don’t need Falcao, Chelsea are worried about his wages, Read Madrid who were once all over Falcao now seem disinterested in him and Manchester City are no longer buying big. Hence, the only possible club that could manage the funds for Falcao’s transfer is AS Monaco and that is where he will be playing next season.
The reason why you don’t hear about third-party investments in the Premier League is because it is banned by the FA. In 2006, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano were signed by West Ham United, but both these players were owned by third-parties. It was Carlos Tevez’s goal on the final day of the season against Manchester United that helped West Ham stay in the top flight next season. Sheffield United were relegated and they claimed that West Ham had signed Tevez illegally from a third-party, Media Sports Investments (MSI).
West Ham United were fined by the FA and they agreed to pay 20 million euros to Sheffield United as compensation. The whole saga made FA ban third party ownership in England.
But third-party ownership is still very much active outside England. In fact, it is very helpful for players from South America to make a move to Europe.
There are two ways through which third-party ownership happens,
a) Consider a player, possibly a wonderkid in South America. Everyone knows that he is going to make it big. Now, the third-party investors approach him and promise that they would help him become a star. Once the player signs up with them, they market him, they arrange better agents and management for him. They then buy the registration rights of the player, help him move abroad and when he does make it big, they cash out.
This is what has happened with Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.
b) The other way is that when a club is short of funds to sign a player, they approach a third-party and ask them for money in exchange for the registration rights of the player. This is what happened with Falcao. Porto wanted to sign him up, but they didn’t have enough funds. So they gave 55% of Falcao’s ownership to Doyen Sports and they in turn funded his transfer.
Later, Doyen Sports financed Falcao’s move to Atletico Madrid. What is more interesting is the fact that Doyen Sports paid most of Falcao’s wages during his time at Atletico. Now, he has become a liability than an asset. They needed to cash in on him before that could become financially impossible. Hence, he was shipped out to AS Monaco for a profit.
It should also be noted that FC Porto owned only 45% of Hulk when he was playing with them. It was once again a third-party investment that forced his move to Zenit St. Petersburg.
Third-party ownership, in the longer run, seems to be unfair to the game as well as the player. But imagine this. Take a club like Stoke City, Newcastle United or Everton. They cannot manage the funds to sign top players. But if they are allowed to take third-party investments, they could challenge the biggies of the Premier League at least for a season or two before the player gets snapped up by a bigger team. But, then again, if every team follows this, the only result would be total chaos.
So, it seems that the real reason why Falcao moved to AS Monaco is because he had very little say in it.