Soccer-PSG and Monaco spending distorts Ligue 1 say agents

By Dimitri Rahmelow

PARIS, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Monaco and Paris Saint Germain have distorted Ligue 1 and the transfer market for French players by splashing out 250 million euros ($330 million), according to two top agents.

“The French market is an 18-club market as far as Ligue 1 is concerned,” Frederic Guerra, who represents French internationals Maxime Gonalons, Loic Remy and Clement Grenier, told Reuters.

“Some 40 million euros have been spent by the (18) French clubs against 250 million by PSG and Monaco, the two big clubs.”

Bruno Satin, the global director of IMG, who deal with more than 200 players worldwide, said: “When they enter the market, they do not buy French. They don’t allow the other (French) clubs to make money and be active on the transfer market.

“The problem is that not a lot of players in France are of a sufficient standard to play for Monaco or PSG.”

PSG, the Ligue 1 champions, are backed by Qatar Sports Investments, who have paid out more than 300 million euros on transfers since taking over in 2011, while Monaco rely on the wealth of Russian billionaire Dmitry Ryobolovnev.

PSG spent 64 million on Edinson Cavani from Napoli while Frenchman Lucas Digne’s is the biggest domestic transfer, from Lille to PSG for 15 million.

Clubs lower down the Ligue 1 pecking order are still feeling the effects of the global economic crisis and, according to Satin, French clubs have got it all wrong in how they calculate their players’ value.

“There’s a very French problem, which is fixing the price of a player according to what is needed to balance the club’s accounts,” Satin said.

“For instance, they say ‘I need six or seven million to balance the accounts so the two players I am selling are worth six or seven million.’ But the two things are not related.”

A major problem in Ligue 1 is that players’ salaries are way too high, they said. “The clubs have been overindulgent as far as salaries are concerned,” Satin said.

“You pay good, very good salaries too often for average players you sign for three or four years. And when you realise they’re not that good, you still have to pay them.

“Thre’s a general recalibration going on. Some so-called big players will see their wages cut by 30, 40 per cent compared to what they were offered two or three years ago” he said.

“Just like in Germany, the players will be offered a salary with an element linked to performance.

“Players clearly have not realised how things are. For them, it’s always a case of more, they have not yet understood that this crisis also affects them. They’re still on another planet.

“They also play a part in this blockage in the market. If a player has a comfortable contract, it’s rare for him to say “I’m ok about losing money” if I can play more.”

Guerra added: “Four or five years ago, it was different because of television rights which were a financial prop. But now everything has hit the roof and television rights are no longer enough.”

They said transfer fees are almost certain to fall to take account of the economic realities in Ligue 1. “We will return to a norm (of lower fees), people will reassure themselves like that. There will also be loans,” says Satin.

Guerra adds: “Loans freshen up the team, add value to the player and please the fans.

“The second alternative is assorted bonuses attached to contracts. Formulas that allow you “wriggle room” are on the rise. It’s a transformation of the market.” ($1 = 0.7508 euros) (Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Robert Woodward)

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