Monaco is distinctive for it's hairpin bends, it's retro statue race cars in the middle of public roads, it's multi-million dollar yacht-strewn harbours, the opulent Hotel de Paris that's filled with old Russian money getting chased by middle-aged French chicks, the Bentleys, Ferraris and McClarens cruising around Monte Carlo and, of course, the understated elegant gaming culture at the Casino.
Tucked away in the western side of the sovereign city-state is the Stade Louis II, home of AS Monaco.
I was ready to drag my girlfriend there earlier this summer, a few days after undefeated super middleweight boxer Edwin Rodriguez knocked out Denis Grachev in a single round to win the Million Dollar Super Four Tournament at the Salle des Etoiles, but, after lunch near the Cathedral, decided the view of the famous nine arches from the heights of Monaco Ville would suffice.
After all, there were more pressing priorities like getting jolly at the Buddha Bar and wasting lolly at the roulette tables. But I wanted a souvenir. I wanted a Falcao shirt. I was obsessed by the cursed thing, convincing myself I could get one.
Go to London, go to Barcelona, hell… go to Rio de Janiero and you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to replica shirts. They're everywhere. And I've still got ill-fitting jerseys (one with Robinho on the back, before he ruined his star rise by transferring to Europe) to prove it.
Go to Monaco and there's none.
There are plenty of shopping districts where there's an array of American-style baseball caps, T shirts and sports jackets all emblazoned with logos that celebrate the town's gloried racing past. Damn, there's even sailing memorabilia. They're clearly proud of their sporting heritage and, despite the presence of a walk of fame on the seafront, if there's one thing Monaco doesn't generally advertise… it's the fact they have a football club.
But who goes there for the football?
He's not the only one. Ricardo Carvalho, Joao Moutinho, Eric Abidal and another personal favourite – Jeremy Toulalan – follow in the studded steps of guys like Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit, Glenn Hoddle, Yaya Toure, George Weah, Sonny Anderson, Youri Djorkaeff and the club were even once guided by a younger Arsene Wenger.
The project currently in place is intriguing. Managed by Claudio Ranieri, Monaco stormed Ligue 2 last season and are already topping Ligue 1 with a 2-1 victory over Marseille ensuring a one point lead over OM.
Benefitting from the bankrolling of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev since 2011's winter, Les Rouge et Blanc have welcomed a wealth of talent into the squad, none highlighted more so than the £50m acquisition of Falcao, who they also give a net annual salary of £10m per year to.
The 27-year-old is a goal machine, converting chances with his bonce, his pegs, any legal part of his anatomy and, in the past couple years, has begun honing in on his technique from dead ball situations; a dimension of his game that was criticised as being sub-par up until 2012.
His aerial ability belies his average height, he raises his game when against Europe's elite and he has returned 72 goals from 87 appearances for Porto, 70 from 91 for Atletico Madrid and, to date, three from four for Monaco.
If any player is worth their paypacket then, considering what he gives his employers, it's Falcao.
But his tenure at Fontvieille is becoming subject to increasing speculation since his June transfer from Atletico. In August, it was reported that potential tax revisions under the regime of current France president Francois Holland could affect Falcao's brobdingnagian allowance.
The player quashed the speculation.
But now there are further revelations. Spanish TV show Punto Pelota have lifted the lid on an apparent clause in Falcao's contract that becomes active from January 2014 and allows the player to move in the event a sufficient offer 'from a team like Real Madrid, Chelsea or Manchester United' is lodged.
A get-out clause, if you will, triggered by one of the big clubs.
Out of them all, it's Chelsea who need him most. But, after four consecutive years of spending in excess of £60m on players, is there enough left in the season's funds for an extravagant and likely club-record buy? If they want him, the winter window would be the time to get him as Real Madrid may just want another Galactico next summer…
Oh, and if you're wondering, the only place I found AS Monaco gear was the official club shop on Rue Grimaldi, but a Falcao jersey will set you back 100 sheets. Sod that. Obsession over.
image: © elhormiguerotv