2013 Transfer Window Anatomy – PSG and Monaco Lead Ligue 1 Splurge

In this transfer blog, Debopam Roy continues to look at the market moves and deals of the football world

The transfer season is well and truly on and some of the biggest money transfers have already been carried out by clubs funded by oil billionaires. The season has especially been marked by the influence of the two cash-rich French clubs that have splashed money to buy the best talents from around the globe. We look at their rise and some of their acquisitions. But it’s not only the rich and the mighty who feature. We have the smart cookies who have made more profit in the last five years than what Paris St. Germain has spent over the same period on an average. Finally, we look at some of the deals that we see happening in the near future.

French Money

Unlike clubs like Chelsea or Manchester City who have gone through a money wave in the 21st century, PSG does not have an illustrious history. In fact the club was only formed in 1970 as a result of the merger of Stade Saint-Germain and Paris FC. That makes the club all of 43 years old.
AS Monaco on the other hand, is a club with history. It is one of the biggest clubs of France with seven Ligue 1 titles and runners-up in the Champions League in 1992 and 2004. So when this proud club sunk to relegation in the 2010-11 season, a change was inevitable and Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev assumed charge.
Before the takeover of PSG and Monaco, both in 2011, the highest transfer fee spent by any Ligue 1 club in a decade was in the 2009-10 season when Lyon paid FC Porto €24 mn for Lisandro López. But speaking of the all-time high transfer fee before oil money began flowing in the French milieus, it was the enigmatic Nicolas Anelka who had held the ubiquitous record of the highest transfer fee commanded in a Ligue 1 transfer. Back at the turn of the century, the pouty striker had been transferred from Real Madrid for £22 mn to PSG. So in the season when the French striker returned to his sixth EPL club for free from the obscurity of Chinese League, PSG and Monaco together crossed that mark five times.

This is an interesting duopoly the likes of which have not been seen before. Together PSG and Monaco now hold the top 10 transfers in Ligue 1 history; 9 of those 10 came in the last two seasons. The two clubs have together spent 80% of the entire Ligue 1 expenditures on players this season. Further, the duopoly of the top transfer deals in a league is something that was once expected to be shared among the Spanish giants – Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, the figures were surprising to say the least.


Highest transfer

Top 10 transfer gross

Clubs featuring in top 10 transfers

Ligue 1

Edinson Cavani (€64.5 mn)

€401.38 mn

PSG (7), Monaco (3)


Fernando Torres (€58.5 mn)

€440.1 mn

Chelsea (3), Man Utd (2), Man City (3), Liverpool (2)

La Liga

Cristiano Ronaldo (€94 mn)

€591 mn

Real Madrid (5), Barcelona (4), Atletico Madrid (1)

Serie A

Hernan Crespo (€55 mn)

€436.9 mn

Lazio (2), Juve (3), Inter (2), Milan (2), Napoli (1)


Javi Martinez (€40 mn)

€258 mn

Bayern Munich (8), Borussia Dortmund (2)

Evidently the Bundesliga comes out unique given how dominant Bayern has been over decades and most of the deals are done on a low-key and unknowns. The Ligue 1 also has been on the same boat for so long. But the times have changed and French money is flowing. PSG and Monaco are the forebears of that though how easily these stars will help their team in winning is another matter. Despite the heavy artillery that PSG amassed, they still ended up runners-up in the 2011-12 season. Monaco, which has only got promoted into the Ligue 1 this year, would do well to get into the top three and qualify in the future.

Scout Well and Sell High

In the midst of all these high-profile and high-money moves, one needs to find a different approach if there is no endless funding from the owners. And one club has, pretty well in this respect, over the years. Udinese is a club that has defined the ‘buy low, sell high’ approach. And they have been doing it for a lot many years now. The scouting network is spread extensively across South America and the East European countries and gems like Alexis Sánchez, Mehdi Benatia, Samir Handanovič, Gökhan İnler, Kwadwo Asamoah, Antonio Candreva and Fabio Quagliarella have passed through Stadio Friuli.

The financial success though was not borne out by success in the field. Even though the club was making money, it needed an influential leader like Antonio Di Natale to really push them into the European places. Here is a small table to indicate how profitable Udinese has been over the years.


Udinese transfer revenue

Udinese transfer spend


£45.5 mn

£25 mn


£61.5 mn

£18.5 mn


£26.5 mn

£12 mn


£32 mn

£16 mn


£30 mn

£17.5 mn


£23.5 mn

£19.5 mn


Some Speculated Moves

Anzhi Makhachkala had come as a comet into the big money league when on January 18, 2011, it was purchased by billionaire Suleyman Kerimov. With funding moves like that of Samuel Eto’o, Willian, Yuri Zhirkov and Christopher Samba, Anzhi had made a splash in the Russian football scene. But on August 7, 2013, Kerimov decided to drastically cut the team’s budget. The club’s budget, officially quoted at an extravagant £116 mn per season was to be reduced to between £32 mn and £45 mn. Anzhi President Konstantin Remchukov suggested on Twitter that the club planned a fire sale of players to trim costs. There might be many reasons behind this and speculations range from health issues of Kerimov, to one of his main business interests Uralkali losing a major deal, the portents were all there. The resignation of Guus Hiddink after just two matches of the new season was emblematic. His replacement, René Meulensteen was sacked just after 16 days in charge.
The rest of August would probably be a period to see which of Europe’s big clubs can pick up the morsels of this disintegrating Anzhi team. There are a fine few players who can be had for basement bargain prices – Eto’o being the top of those but Brazilians Willian and Jucilei da Silva would also be good picks as would be the trio of Africans – Christopher Samba, Mbark Boussoufa and Lacina Traoré.
Another club who is probably going to go for a bargain sale is Juventus. After the acquisition of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, there are too many strikers in The Old Lady. There would have to be a sale of two of the three – Alessandro Matri, Mirko Vučinić and Fabio Quagliarella.

Milan are still stuck with the shenanigans of CSKA Moscow’s directors in releasing Keisuke Honda six months before he gets released for free. It’s quite incredible how the business has played out. CSKA are prepared to lose the player for free but wouldn’t allow him to move for €4 mn. Expect this deal to be closed quite late in the month.

Last Word

The transfer story of Marcos Aoás Corrêa’, popularly known as Marquinhos, is probably the most remarkable of those that the combined might of PSG and Monaco bought this season. The way his career has progressed, you would reckon he is the best thing since … Thiago Silva. Part of the Corinthians squad and highly touted, he moved to Roma after only six first team starts for Corinthians. That was 2012 and he was worth £3.2 mn – a fairly costly affair for a teenaged defender coming to a league like Serie A. 12 months and 26 first team appearances for Roma later, he was worth £27 mn – the fifth highest fee ever paid for a defender. Is he that good? Well, for a fact, a 19-year-old to be the first choice centre-back in Serie A in his first season for a top team – that itself is quite unheard of. But Roma had a shambolic season in many ways. Their tally of 56 goals conceded was only surpassed by one non-relegated team – Inter, who too had a disastrous season.

So what does Marquinhos bring? Opta’s statistics reveal why he is so highly rated – he has a pass completion rate of 89% and pass completion rate in final third of 62%. Of his 245 aerial duels, he won 57%. Of his 51 tackles, he won 84%, had 20 blocks, 193 clearances and 71 interceptions. In his 26 matches, he committed only 22 fouls, won 24 fouls and never saw a yellow card with a solitary red. Individually that’s phenomenal but as Roma’s count of goals conceded showed, it wasn’t enough. His speed and ball control was noted but would need improvements in his physicality and positional skills. Perhaps the best thing about this transfer is that he would be able to play with his idol, Thiago Silva. That might very well be the best thing for Big Phil Scolari – the Seleção manager.

About Debopam Roy

Debopam Roy follows football in Italy and South America. You can reach him on Twitter @rossoneri