The curious case of Radamel Falcao:

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Rademel Falcao-AtleticoWithout doubt one of the hottest properties in world football right now, is the Colombian phenom, Radamel Falcao. The forward who placed 5th in this year’s Ballon D’or, and was awarded the central role in the 2012 FIFPro World XI front three, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, has amassed a high-profile fan-club, not just among footballing royalty.

The striker who was reserved special praise from current of Spain, Juan Carlos I, has emerged as one of the most sought after signatures of this transfer window.

Since his move from River Plate in 2009, Falcao scored 72 goals in 87 matches for Porto, followed by 70 in 90 for his current club, Atletico Madrid.

The powerful Colombian has terrified European defences, scoring everything from range shots and headers, to acrobatic volleys and free-kicks and in doing so, proved himself as one of the most complete forwards on the planet.

It is of no surprise therefore, that almost all of world football’s top clubs have at some point been linked with the player. Yet due to the magnitude of the player’s talent and his universal admiration within world football, it is only those clubs ran by the most excitable and audacious plutocrats, that will realistically be able to finance such a colossal transfer.

However, amidst the unrelenting stream of transfer rumours surrounding the Atletico no. 9, there exists some little known nuances, that have an unusual grapple over the developing plot.

Like a number of South American football stars, Falcao is subject to a very complicated third-party ownership situation, similar to that which motivated the moves of Argentineans Mascherano and Tevez, to West Ham in 2006 and Brazilian, Hulk, to Zenit last summer.

Third party ownership occurs when a private investment group purchases the registration rights of an up and coming player and commits to offer financial, managerial and marketing support in an attempt to further the player’s career, (and ultimately make as much money as possible from it).

The company which owns Falcao is a firm called Doyen Sports, which was founded by super-agent Mendes (most famously Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho’s agent) and Peter Kenyon (former Chelsea chairman).

Doyen Sports first arrived on the scene of Falcao’s career when they helped fund his move from River Plate to FC Porto in 2009. Through the transaction they purchased over 50% of his transfer rights and supplemented his salary whilst he was playing at the club.

They then forced the €40m transfer of the striker to a debt-ridden Atletico Madrid side, where they are likely to have increased their stake in the player having made a considerable contribution to the initial transfer fee, subbing the club money to keep them alive (through shirt sponsorship), not to mention covering the vast majority of his €10million per annum salary.

With the 27 year old now at the peak of his career and the height of his monetary valuation, it looks like Doyen Sports are gearing up to negotiate their final act in this narrative and say goodbye to their Colombian Cash-cao (…I’m sorry, couldn’t resist).

Whilst the forward has remained coy over any potential move away from the Estadio Vicente Calderon, the fact of the matter is, like with much of his career moves, he may not have a say in the matter.

The minimum transfer-fee release clause that the Doyen Group are said to have put in place is €60million. Add to that Falcao’s €10m yearly salary, and the list of clubs that could stump up that kind of money becomes a very exclusive one.

Realistically, only Real Madrid, Man City, Chelsea, PSG and Monaco can be considered genuine contenders for his signature, given the depth of their financial backing and a proclivity for blockbuster transfers.

For and Chelsea however, there is the issue of the English Premier regulations. Following the mess of the Tevez and Mascherano saga, there is now a rule in place that prevents any English club from directly purchasing a player under third-party ownership. Whilst there are ways around this, (it was rumoured that Chelsea subbed Benfica the money to buy out David Luiz from his third-party owners, before completing their transfer of the player), it puts the two English clubs at slightly longer odds than their competitors.

Similarly, Real Madrid are unlikely to come in for the player due to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that exists between themselves and Atletico, stating that neither team will attempt to sign the other’s players. Earlier in the season Mourinho was quizzed about the situation and preceded to describe the striker as their ‘forbidden fruit’.

Which leaves us then, with PSG and Monaco.

Whilst we shouldn’t underestimate the lengths to which PSG’s Qatari owners will go to secure their transfer targets, even for them, Falcao could be an extravagance too far. Not only do they have an impressive and full strike-force as it is, there is the small matter of tax.

Monaco have the distinct advantage of not having to pay any. If PSG, or any of the clubs previously mentioned, were to pay a player 200 thousand euros a week, after tax, only around 100 thousand euros of which would end up with the player. Whereas Monaco employees are entitled to near enough 100% of their full salary.

If the game has descended into the money-grabbing enterprise that the Doyen Sports venture was always intended to be, it looks like Ligue 2 champions, Monaco are best placed to pave the way for Falcao’s departure from third-party ownership.

In a bizarre culmination of events, the side that can offer no european football, nor any guarantee of it in coming years, must now be considered front-runners to secure the services of perhaps the deadliest finisher on the continent, and the man once dubbed the ‘ of the Europa League’.

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