The Roker Ramble: Il S'Agit De La Monnaie (It's All About The Money)

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As football fans now, we often bemoan the amount of money that has taken over the English, and global game.

We, as fans of Sunderland feel more aggrieved than most thanks to the players that have walked out on us in recent years to chase the pound coin. From Darren Bent to Asamoah Gyan, we've been the victims of greedy football stars for years now.

However, I'm not really talking about small amounts of personal worth, such as the above examples, but rather the huge amounts of money that have come into the game at clubs such as Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and even Leicester City.

So, as I was saying. We often moan about the money that is coming into the game. When Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003, almost every football fan in the land outside of the club moaned and whined that it wasn't fair. Their financial situation gave them an unfair advantage over the rest of the league, like playing Football Manager with a mate who has £500m more than you to spend. It became easy to claim that they 'bought the league', and didn't really deserve the success which came their way.

Skip forward almost a decade and the same arguments are now being thrown in the direction of Manchester City. They've spent hundreds of millions of pounds and bought some of the best players in the world, but is this honestly a bad thing for the football world? Ask any Manchester City fan, and I'll bet ever the most sentimental of supporters would say that they are enjoying watching Aguero, Dzeko and Silva more than they did Jamie Pollock, Paul Dickov and Shaun Goater.

This season's Premiership is already shaping up to be the most competitive for many years, and it is fair to say that, without the huge financial inputs at Chelsea and City, that probably wouldn't be the case. Although the top three are probably further apart from the chasing pack than they would otherwise be, there is at least competition evident.

Leaving our shores, something similar is currently happening in my country of residence, France.

This summer, Paris Saint-Germain were the subject of a takeover bid, and are now controlled by the Qatar Investment Authority, who snapped up a 70% share in the club. Les Parisiens only finished fourth in Ligue1 last season, and are therefore taking part in this year's Europa League, but, under the guidance of director of football Leonardo, have put together arguably one of the most exciting teams in European football.

Former SAFC transfer interestee Kevin Gamiero (and I use the term lightly as, having seen the pint-sized centre forward playing this season, I really am baffled as to where the rumour came from, the guy is magnificent) was joined at the club by top French winger Jeremy Menez, tough-tackling midfielder Mohammed Sissoko and a host of other players that are the envy of the majority of the French top flight.

Then came the big one. Despite an apparent strong interest from Chelsea, PSG pulled off a coup that may well have changed the face of the French game for years to come. The reported €39.8m that the club paid for Argentinian Javier Pastore may seem like a lot for a player from Palermo, but those lucky enough to have seen him play will tell you that he is worth every cent.

But it isn't just the benefit to the Parisian club that is important with this transfer, but the whole face of Ligue1 in general.

For years, the division hasn't really been seen as one of Europe's best. Ask fans to rank the leagues, and you may find that the Premiership, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga would all be popular choices ahead of their French counterpart, but the trend is definitely starting to swing.

Although it may only be on Sky channel TV5, viewers in the UK can now watch a highlights programme from Ligue1, although live coverage of games is baffling still a no-go, despite so many other leagues being available in one form or another on one of the many channels available.

It is probably fair to suggest that if PSG build on their excellent start to the season (they currently top the division for the first time in years - while Gamiero and Pastore have both been revelations), and build on their squad in the meantime, then they will be a force to be reckoned with in next season's Champions League. Although they aren't doing as well as expected in the Europa League, it is quickly becoming apparent that it isn't a competition to best gauge the strength of clubs anymore. However, if or when PSG do make strides back into Europe's biggest club competition, expect broadcasters to really start taking an interest in France again.

The money which has been injected into Paris Saint-Germain has really set Ligue1 alight. Their 2-0 victory over Lyon at the Parc de Princes on Sunday night was a fantastic advert for the division, and for French football in general. With the talent pool increasing throughout the league, such as Joe Cole's move to Lille to play alongside arguably one of the most exciting players in Europe, Eden Hazard, Ligue1 is absolutely on the up.

This season's Champions League is already seeing French club's way out perform their English counterparts. Don't be surprised if this continues throughout the competition, and when PSG have had 12 months to put together the squad that they have already made strides with, expect French football to, once again, become the talking point of fans across all of Europe.

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