Amongst the late flurry of transfer deals being completed in the latter days of August, one capture seemed to go unnoticed and awry from the public’s insatiable gaze.
Whilst Spurs were busy attempting to quash and quell rumours of the possible departures of Luka Modric (for whom they were successful) and Peter Crouch (alas, unsuccessful), a diminutive, prodigious Spaniard was being ushered into the revolving doors of White Hart Lane.
Iago (or Yago, depending on lingua franca) Falqué is only 21, yet the attacking central midfielder has already been on the books of several European powerhouses: firstly Real Madrid, then Barcelona, and then Juventus, with a loan spell at Villarreal amongst that whilst at i Bianconeri. And now, in a small victory in their hankering for European recognition, Spurs can now be added to that roll call, for Iago, his preferred moniker, was plucked from obscurity by Harry Redknapp as someone with a bright future. But, with those previous employers in mind, it beggars the question: how and why hasn’t he accomplished that potential?
As the Spain Under-21s vanquished, in a fashion similar to their La Roja Furia senior counterparts, all before them in this summer’s Under-21 European Championships, certain names became synonymous with the ensuing inevitable praise: David de Gea, Thiago Alcantara, Juan Mata, Iker Muniain to name but a few. With Spanish football at its zenith (any Spaniard seemingly has a zero added to their transfer fee, just because of their nationality), the future’s promising for the Spanish youth; but how has Iago’s bright star faded from this galaxy?
After starting off at Real, he was poached by their Catalonian rivals, only to not make the cut (just one appearance, in seven years, in a Barcelona B team led by Pep Guardiola), which is nothing to be disheartened about: if Barca set the bar for today’s standard, nobody could blame Falqué for failing to penetrate outer-space and proceed to vault that bar.
But he also never settled in northern Italy, as he made no appearances for Juve. He was shipped out first to Bari (again, no appearances) and then to Villarreal’s B team, where he did, eventually, enjoy a fruitful spell, albeit in their B team.
So, he clearly has potential as these luminaries of football keep picking him up; but what should Redknapp be wary of? What is it that is so hindering his progress? The answer, it could be said, is purely bad luck. Not your usual Owen Hargreaves-style injury bad luck, but just a victim of poorly-advised decisions, maybe made by him, maybe made for him. For starters, competition’s always going to be tough for those exiting the Barcelona academy of La Masia. It’s understandable, yet not apocalyptic, if the youngster doesn’t make the cut; messrs. Fabregas and Piqué seem to have recovered suitably after initially being deemed surplus to requirements.
In addition, he shouldn’t have gone to Italy. He doesn’t speak the language, he had no previous accomplishments upon which to base his claim for a place in the team, and he was in crass competition with seasoned signors.
But is Tottenham a better decision? On paper, it would appear not. Principally, Spurs are currently, whilst starving in the striking department, overrun with midfielders; at the last count, they have ten player who would probably be ahead of him in the pecking order for those two central midfield positions. Furthermore, Spurs don’t have a fabled reputation for nurturing youth. They’re not renowned for it and, preferring to import players, they don’t rely on it for success. The most recent example of Gio dos Santos is an alarming citation of what can happen to a prodigious youngster starved of first-team chances.
Alas, the jury’s out for Iago. He may yet have some Sandro-esque luck and be granted a first-team chance due to extraneous circumstances. Or, speaking historically, he may just be a glorified bench-warmer. Whilst time will tell, there is no doubt that this was one of the more bizarre transfer deals, for all concerned.
Article courtesy of Theo Rowley from This is Futbol