What Monaco’s new-found wealth means for PSG and Ligue 1 next season

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Although the current Ligue 1 campaign has not even finished yet, with a final round of matches to play on Sunday, preparations for next season are already underway at a host of top-flight clubs. None have hit the headlines so far like Monaco though. The recently-promoted side, returning to Le Championnat after a two-year absence, have already made a splash in this summer's transfer market with a sensational double-swoop for Porto talents Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez.

- Monaco sign Moutinho, Rodriguez

Having Monaco back in Ligue 1 is a big boost for French football, though the French Football Federation and the Professional Football League (LFP) are doing their best to mute their impact. However, it is something that will also benefit champions Paris Saint-Germain.

What does Monaco's return to the big time mean for PSG and for the league?

For the capital club, it is a challenge. Monaco threw down the gauntlet to Les Parisiens with the signing of Portuguese international Moutinho and Colombian sensation Rodriguez, and it is an invitation for competition that PSG have needed since the Qatar Sports Investments takeover. The club's spending sprees for the last two seasons have been unprecedented in French football, but now with Les Monegasques another option within the league there is a threat to any potential capital dominance.

For a start, a successful title defence will not be straightforward. Not that it was going to be easy before the arrivals of Moutinho and Rodriguez, but it certainly will not be clear-cut, as you'd imagine that Monaco's spending won't stop there. Neither will PSG's though, but it will force sporting director Leonardo to reconsider his transfer policy for a start as his often hit-or-miss, scattered approach now has little room for error.

PSG need this rivalry because, at times this season, they have been inconsistent and complacent due to a lack of domestic rival that they can truly recognise as an equal. Of course there are sides that have proved to be more than a match for Carlo Ancelotti's side this season. Saint-Etienne in particular seem to be PSG's bete noire under Christophe Galtier. But now with the likes of the principality outfit breathing down their necks, if not immediately within one or two seasons, it means there is no margin for error and the club and players' attitudes have to improve to deal with the domestic threat.

Leonardo's comments after the 1-0 defeat at Reims in March epitomised the disregard that the side from the capital are guilty of when playing in the league.

"We're not made for games like that," protested the Brazilian. "PSG is a team for Europe, not for France."

"When games are based on a fight, we do not succeed. We will have to learn how to face games like these though; as they are common here and this (the match against Reims) will not be the last time."

Indeed it won't be. The fight will be fiercer than it was this season and it will not be possible to win the title in the same way Ancelotti's side have this campaign. Firstly, there will be a rival team that does not throw away points and title leads as regularly as both Marseille and Lyon did this season, although those two will have learned from this term and will be stronger next season. Monaco will likely insert themselves immediately into that chasing pack, but Saint-Etienne have also proved, by going unbeaten against PSG all season and challenging for European qualification, that they have what it takes to beat the side from the capital. Lille, too, could also challenge once more after making some shrewd investments.

Dominating Monaco and all of their other rivals next season is a perfect way to demonstrate the strength of PSG's project and its long-term sustainability. As Les Rouge-et-Bleu have shown this year, and last, Ligue 1 is not straightforward no matter how much money you spend and the principality club will likely discover that upon their return to Le Championnat. There will probably not be immediate success for Claudio Ranieri's side based solely on the fact that the French top-flight is a very difficult league to simply buy success in, a problem that will be exacerbated by ASM's sparse crowds at Stade Louis II.

Added competition within the league could also help sway those Parisien stars contemplating an exit towards staying at the club. With a new domestic threat on the horizon, it will not be possible to put the same emphasis on the Champions League next season and a tussle with Monaco for domestic supremacy will be more enticing than this season's title charge that was unnecessarily prolonged.

Monaco's statement of intent also puts PSG's current situation with Ancelotti under increased scrutiny. The club need the Italian's future to be resolved one way or another soon so that the club can start making plans for next season with or without him. Though the emergence of Les Monegasques is not likely to be enough to provoke a change of heart regarding problems that are solely rooted in a personal issue with the conduct of the club, it could prove an appetising challenge for any potential successor.

For Ligue 1 though, it is an extremely exciting time and further proof that French football is on the rise as a European force. The introduction of Monaco makes the league more appealing, inside and outside of France, not to mention giving a highly competitive league some extra needle. The arrival of another affluent club gives the competition a much-needed shot in the arm, offering to potentially prevent a PSG domestic hegemony a la Lyon in the early 2000s.

The capital club should welcome the challenge of Monaco, with or without Ancelotti, because they will make the side and project stronger in time. A first title in 19 years this season has been a massive cause for celebration and it was thoroughly deserved, but another league victory next season in the face of such competition would be even more satisfying.

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