I’m not much of a Formula 1 fan. I find it incredibly boring, just watching cars go around and around in circles. It’s the mind-numbing equivalent to a football team playing it around the back to kill time. There might the odd hiccup or hospital pass, but more often than not it’s just painful to watch.
But there’s this odd allure about the Monaco Grand Prix and only a small percentage of that is accredited to the actual race. The track is a little more unconventional than the usual chicanes and corners you’d find at a purpose-built track and the racers must contend with a much smaller road area than they and the race-watcher are normally used to. But the dollar-studded surroundings encasing the race give it that little bit extra. The yachts, the designer suits and the high-rise luxury apartments. I’d like to earn £150,000 a week playing football. I’d like even more to earn £150,000 a week playing football and live in Monaco.
I don’t think anyone has ever sat down over their Sunday dinner with the Monaco GP on the box and not said “I wouldn’t mind living there.”
Russia doesn’t have a Grand Prix.
Russia is cold, and although most of the top level clubs are congregated in the west, it’s fecking huge. And since we’ve mentioned racing, it’s got an absurd amount of bad drivers. I’d feel safer roaming the streets of Paris and Monaco than Kazan and Makhachkala in my £250,000 Ferrari.
The billionaire backed Russian clubs have had their handful of transfer coups. Anzhi Makhachkala made the biggest statement of all when they made Samuel Eto’o the highest paid footballer in the world, though I’m sure many agree he’s not deserving of that perch. The Cameroonian still had much to offer in Europe’s main leagues but seems to have fallen off the side of the Earth since he’s moved to Russia.
Zenit St Petersburg beat a number of clubs to sign Brazilian striker Hulk. His transfer was controversial and taken coldly by the club’s fans. A bomb was found at the team training ground with the note ‘Hulk Out’ soon after his arrival. His signing has paid off to a certain extent given their league victory, but seven league goals in 16 games was hardly inspiring from a €40,000,000 player.
Yann M’Vila would’ve been considered a great signing for Rubin Kazan after years of hype and speculation but has been massively disappointing. Willian joined Anzhi in one of the most expensive signings of this money-spinning period but was already based in Eastern Europe.
Other players who ignored the attentions of the ‘big’ European leagues for Russia include Rasmus Elm and Alex Witself, the latter warranting a £35,000,000 fee to join Zenit. It would’ve been interesting to see him grace Spain or England but his afro-insulated head allowed him a move to Russia.
Even Chris Samba got paid a ridiculous amount of money to play there.
Now the world’s biggest players will be posed with the following question: lots of money in a two, perhaps three team league in Russia… or lots of money in a two team league in France? No brainer.
PSG were well footed in France prior to the massive investment from Qater, now they’re on level pegging with most Champions League sides. Monaco have gone from playing in front of less than 10,000 people in Sedan to signing the most wanted player in the world in a matter of weeks.
No Russian team, no matter how much money it had to burn would have had as quick an impact so immediately after promotion from the second tier of Russia.
Russia have passed the baton of diamond encrusted playing contracts to France, but at the end of the day these players will be playing in a relatively uncompetitive league, where the rich win everything and the minions scraping £25,000 a week just fill up the numbers.
Except it’s much nicer done in Monaco.