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Monaco’s money snares ultimate predator Falcao

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The news that one of the world's most sought-after strikers Radamel Falcao has moved to Monaco, who are not even in European competition next season, will have many fans scratching their heads and asking 'Why?'.

The answer, though, is easy.

The Colombia forward, known as 'The Tiger', has joined for a transfer fee reported by media to be more than 50 million euros and for a net annual salary of 14 million euros at a Ligue 1 club situated in a special tax status area.

That would put his salary above the two players widely regarded as the best in the world, Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Falcao will also be representing a newly promoted team.

The club have a great history but appear in front of an average crowd of 5,000 - something former players such as Thierry Henry have complained about in the past.

Falcao leaves an Atletico Madrid side who have just beaten Real Madrid at the Bernabeu to win the Copa del Rey final and finished third in La Liga to qualify for the world's most prestigious club competition, the Champions League.

Atletico usually attract 50,000 fans a game at the Calderon and the club the 27-year-old Falcao was expected to join were big-spending Chelsea who have won the Champions League and the Europa League in the last two seasons.

After two-year spells at Porto and Atletico, achieving back-to-back top scorer awards as he helped the two clubs win the Europa League in 2011 and 2012, he could probably have had the pick of the continent's top sides.

But the move is not as clear as it seems. Falcao is a modern player in every sense of the word in that he is also part-owned by a third party who helped finance his moves to Porto and Atletico.

Falcao, a devout Christian, was in floods of tears as he returned to the pitch after his final home game for Atletico last weekend and it is easy to believe the transfer is not his preferred choice.

His agent is Jorge Mendes, one of the most influential in the game, with a stable that includes figures such as Jose Mourinho and Ronaldo and the three players Monaco have already attracted this month.

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev's money has secured James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho from Porto while Ricardo Carvalho has joined from Real Madrid.

Atletico support huge debts, including one with Mendes's company who helped finance their purchase of Falcao, and they will have been keen to raise as much cash as possible from their prize asset.

They have not stood in the way of their number nine and the fans seem to have accepted it too.

While Sergio Aguero's move to Manchester City in 2011 generated a backlash against the Argentine as he forced the deal through, Atletico supporters seem to have given Falcao their blessing to leave.

"I don't think about why he is leaving, and where he is going, rather in what he has given us," said coach Diego Simeone. "He has always given his all and we have to be grateful to him."

Falcao was brought to Atletico to replace Aguero and it quickly became apparent they were different types of strikers.

While Aguero created and scored goals, delighting fans with his trickery and dribbling skills, Falcao was an out-an-out goal-scorer who was happiest inside the area and powerful in the air.

Once he was reunited with former boss Simeone, who had coached him at River Plate, Atletico established a pattern of play that suited the forward.

The Madrid outfit made the most of limited resources, using over-lapping wing backs to put crosses in the area, employing midfielder Koke's abilities at set pieces and combining that with a hard-working team ethic.

The pugnacious Diego Costa provided the perfect foil as a physical second striker coming in off the flanks and Falcao only really struggled when his supply lines were cut.

He shone in Atletico's biggest games.

Falcao netted twice in the 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the 2012 Europa League final and grabbed a hat-trick against Chelsea in the European Super Cup last August as his team romped to a 4-1 victory.

He turned provider for Costa, brilliantly setting up the equaliser in Atletico's 2-1 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Copa del Rey final two weeks ago.

Only Messi and Ronaldo have scored more than his 28 goals in La Liga to date, with match left to play.

Falcao will be more than their equal when it comes to salaries next season, even though the trio are unlikely to cross paths again at least for another season.

From Reuters

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