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Monaco signs Radamel Falcao

PARIS -- Monaco's spending spree moved up a gear when it agreed to sign Colombian striker Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal on Friday, establishing Monaco as a major challenger to French champion Paris Saint-Germain next season and a potential force in Europe.

The club announced the agreement on its website. No financial details were given by either club, but the cost of the transfer is estimated at 50 million euros to 60 million euros ($65 million to $78 million), with an annual salary of 14 million euros ($18.2 million) -- putting the 27-year-old level on wages with Paris Saint-Germain star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Last week, Monaco signed Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho and Colombia international James Rodriguez from FC Porto for a combined 70 million euros ($91.2 million).

"We are very happy that Radamel Falcao has chosen the challenge with Monaco for the future," Monaco president and billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev said. "It's an honor to be able to count one of the best players in the world" in our team.

Falcao has scored 52 league goals in the past two seasons for Atletico. He recently helped the club win the Copa del Rey, beating Real Madrid 2-1 on its crosstown rival's home soil.

"I'm eager to start this challenge! I count on you support!" Falcao said on his Twitter account.

Monaco was promoted to the top flight in France after winning the second division this season. Falcao has already made his mark at Monaco's Stade Louis II stadium -- a hat trick in a 4-1 win against Chelsea in the European Supercup.

Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho has also joined from Real Madrid on a free transfer.

Monaco sporting director Vadim Vasilyev said Thursday that there is no clause to sell Falcao to Real Madrid after one season, despite media reports claiming such a deal is in place.

"Is there are a clause with Real Madrid? No, if we signed Falcao for a year, it would serve no purpose," Vasilyev said on RMC radio. "There is no clause (agreement) with Real Madrid, I can confirm that."

PSG, which is owned by Qatari backers QSI, has spent nearly 260 million euros ($338.8 million) on players in the past two seasons -- but Monaco's spending power combined with lucrative tax breaks makes the club a massive lure to players.

Left back Eric Abidal has also been linked with a move to Monaco. He announced on Thursday that he is leaving Barcelona.

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