I think it's fairly safe to say that Tottenham Hotspur were never going to get the best of the best when it came to the summer transfer market, but we certainly weren't expecting to get pipped for top signings by a newly promoted club. That, however, is precisely what is happening thanks to AS Monaco and their Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Monaco have already dropped £70 million on FC Porto pair Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez. The two left the Portuguese champions for big contracts and a chance to play in a bigger league. This transfer certainly stings Tottenham Hotspur because it seemed as though Moutinho was a favorite to come to Spurs this summer to reunite with former manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Monaco have not stopped there though. The Red and Whites look set to continue their spending spree with the addition of Falcao for upwards of £50 million. The Atletico Madrid striker was certainly not a Spurs target, but when you consider that both he and Robert Lewandowski (who has secured a move to Bayern Munich according to his agent) are off the table, the market for top class strikers has grown a little smaller. Falcao had long been linked with a switch to Chelsea, so now our Premier League rivals must turn elsewhere for striking reinforcements. Many believe that will mean Edinson Cavani heads to Stamford Bridge, but he has already been linked with a move to Manchester City.
Again, Cavani wasn't exactly a Spurs target, but other top clubs that are looking for a striker may have to look at players that Spurs had been targeting should Falco join Monaco and then Cavani goes somewhere unexpected. Players like Leandro Damiao, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Roberto Soldado, and David Villa, may all find themselves with very different destinations than those that many had previously imagined thanks to the ripple effect created by Monaco.
If that were the end of things it wouldn't be so bad, but Monaco are far from done. The Ligue 2 champions have a lot of spending to do. They must strengthen every area of the squad if they are to achieve the heights that Rybolovlev imagines. Monaco have now been linked with moves for players like Steve Mandana, Nicolas N'Koulou, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alvaro Pereira, Victor Valdes (who's on a free, but whatever), Fabio Coentrao, Carlos Teves, Dani Alves,Branislav Ivanovic, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Lisandro Lopez. So, quickly looking at that list I see at least three and as many as five players that Tottenham have been linked with or should be linked with and one current Spurs player. If Monaco manages to sign even half of the list then Tottenham and a lot of other big clubs might have to turn to either less proven players or more expensive ones.
Not only are Monaco's transfers reducing the number of top quality players available for purchase, but they're also driving up the price of those that are available. I can't deny that Falcao is worth £50 million, but €45 million for James Rodriguez seems a bit high. The Colombian is young and talented, but he's now the 10th most expensive transfer in football history. I'm sure he would have cost some club €30 million, but it's obvious that Monaco over paid and are more than happy to do so.
The final thing that clubs like Monaco screw up for Tottenham Hotspur is wages. Manchester City did this when they got their Oil many a few years back. They bought as many players as they could and paid them ridiculous wages. That's how you end up paying part of Emmanuel Adebayor's salary even after he's transfered to another club. Monaco are almost certainly offering these players bonkers wages (plus the benefit of living tax free in Monaco) in order to entice them to come. These are wages aren't going to be able to matched by most clubs in the world, let alone Spurs.
The question now is, if Monaco are going to continue to screw things up for Spurs, then how do we counter it? It all comes down to just getting the job done and done quickly. Tottenham have to identify the players they want and get them secured. It's not even June and Monaco have already acquired two players. Tottenham need to have their targets signed up by the end of June in order to avoid getting priced out of the market or have their targets bought by someone else. We can't spend all summer hemming and hawing over prices in order to get the best deal. The club must also be smart about its purchases. That means, no more buying number 10's. We have forty-seven of them already. Buy a striker, buy a left back, buy a central midfielder and be done with it.
In short, clubs with oil bucks suck, especially if you support a club that doesn't have them. The problem isn't that their owners spend money, they're perfectly entitled to do that (annoying though it may be). The problem is that when a bad team suddenly gets an infusion of cash it creates a ripple effect in the transfer market that affects everyone else. And when a club like Spurs is trying to establish itself as a destination for top players another club cutting in line doesn't exactly help matters.