Can the ridiculous riches of Monaco lure Cristiano Ronaldo to Stade Louis II?
Reports suggest the newly-promoted Ligue 1 side will launch an £85 million bid to land the Portuguese superstar. The Real Madrid player would add to a squad that has already confirmed the signings of Joao Moutinho, James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Ricardo Carvalho.
Would Ronaldo's arrival change French football? Paris Saint-Germain's sudden investment brought instant success with the 2012-13 Ligue 1 title now residing in the country's capital.
Individuals such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura have transformed the fortunes of a side that last won the domestic championship during the 1993-94 season. Can Monaco's endless stream of cash challenge the newly-crowned Parisians?
Using FIFA 13, man's most scientific method of experimentation, let's see how the changes impact Ligue 1 for the 2013-14 campaign. I set up a custom tournament that mimics the Ligue 1 structure, adding Falcao, Moutinho, Rodriguez, Carvalho and Ronaldo to Monaco's default lineup.
Alongside Monaco, I included Guingamp and Nantes in the top division after their 2012-13 promotions. Nancy, Troyes and Brest were eliminated for suffering relegation.
The positioning of each new player utilised Monaco's default 4-4-2 formation. Although Claudio Ranieri is unlikely to employ this setup when the club's new squad is assembled, this is the fairest way of judging each result.
Ricardo Carvalho played centre-back for the most part, although a series of red cards and injuries forced him to work at right-back for two games. Moutinho took up a midfield role, while James Rodriguez started on the left wing. Ronaldo and Falcao started as strikers. How did the team fair? Let's take a look.
If FIFA 13 is anything to go by, Monaco's Ligue 1 season will start with a bang. Two assists from Ronaldo will allow Rodriguez to score a brace, beating Montpellier 3-1 at the Stade Louis II. This is followed by a 2-2 draw against Rennes, a match that sees Ronaldo score his first competitive goal for the club.
Monaco's first loss of the season comes in the third match. A 2-1 home defeat to Marseille is followed by a 2-0 away defeat against Toulouse. Radamel Falcao's run of goalless appearances ends with the fifth game, a 2-1 home win against Lille.
Form remains inconsistent throughout the season. A 2-1 away loss to Valenciennes is forgotten with a 3-0 home thrashing of Sochaux. Rodriguez once again hits a brace in this encounter and Falcao manages to grab his second of the season.
Ronaldo and Rodriguez emerge as heroes across the next four games, netting six between them and winning Monaco eight points. Falcao continues to struggle in the lead-up to the club's game against league leaders PSG.
Unfortunately for Monaco, Joao Moutinho gets sent off early in this match. The Parc des Princes witnesses a 4-1 thrashing with Ibrahimovic netting twice. Ronaldo and Carvalho score in the 2-1 win against Ajaccio after the PSG clash, but a 2-1 loss to Lyon halts momentum again.
With 15 games played, Monaco now go seven games unbeaten, racking up 17 points and conceding just three goals. Ronaldo scores five this time, both Rodriguez and Falcao nab three, while Moutinho scores his first goal for the club. This standout result from this period sees Monaco beat Lyon 2-0 at home.
Another important red card stops Monaco from pushing on. Falcao's sending off sees the team lose 1-0 away at Sochaux and slip back into inconsistent form. A narrow 1-0 home defeat to PSG and a draw with Bordeaux sees Monaco slip away from the top five.
Wins against Valenciennes, Lille, Nice and Nantes see Monaco compete for a European place once more. As hinted at with previous results, this excellent streak is ruined with losses to Marseille, Toulouse, Lorient and Rennes across the remaining fixtures. Draws with Saint-Etienne and bottom club Guingamp fail to help matters, as Monaco drop to eighth.
Fun Fact: Giorgios Tzavelas was sent off four times during the FIFA 13 Ligue 1 simulation for 2013-14.
Before we take a look at the individual honours, here's how the top 10 finished once the experiment was complete:
It seems FIFA 13 isn't sure the current Monaco side (plus Ronaldo) will challenge for honours in Ligue 1. Although tenuous, it certainly throws up some interesting occurrences.
Ronaldo finished runner-up in the top scorer's chart with 22 goals. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took the Golden Boot with 24 goals, while Adrian Mutu (20) and Ibrahimovic (18) came third and fourth, respectively. Falcao finished 15th with 13 goals and Rodriguez came in at 23rd with 10.
Monaco's top three goalscorers notched 45 between them, amounting to 69% of the team's total.
A fine season for Mutu was topped off with the Romanian heading the assists chart. He set up 11 goals, while Monaco's new bunch of individuals barely registered. Rodriguez showed the best numbers, finishing 19th with six assists. Moutinho and Ronaldo inched into the top 20 with five each.
Interestingly, Ricardo Carvalho was the only Monaco player to make it into the Team of the Season.
Although this should be viewed as a bit of fun (before comments slay me down with "YOUR STUPID" quips), it's interesting to see how Monaco's potential new lineup is judged on FIFA 13. Simulations crunch statistical battles down in order to produce results, most of which seem highly realistic.
While the game believes Ronaldo would be a goalscoring success, the same cannot be said for Falcao. The lack of assists between Monaco's top players also indicates selfishness could destroy the team's chances of competing for the title. Can the real-world squad work as a team and overcome PSG?
If FIFA 13 is anything to go by, Monaco's money isn't going to bring success next season.
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