If you’d have said just a few years ago that Radamel Falcao would be moving around on loan after being all but shoved out of the door at Manchester United you may well have been laughed out of town by fans of the beautiful game. While at Atletico Madrid, the now 29-year-old was simply the planet’s finest striker, with his explosive power, unrelenting finishing ability and ‘never say die attitude’ bundled into one long-maned vision of footballing elegance.
Alas, times have changed, and now Chelsea are offering him a last chance at a truly elite club, although he’s likely to be spending quite a bit of time on Jose Mourinho’s bench. Even though some United fans are chuckling at their London counterparts, the last laughs may well be had at Stamford Bridge, with Falcao’s reportedly imminent move looking tailor-made to get him back to his best. ‘How?’ we hear you scream… well, here are FIVE reasons!
Last season the level of pressure on Falcao was massive. Signed as a marquee man on a mega money loan deal, the Colombian was expected to hit the ground running and become the focal point of a new and exciting Louis van Gaal side. However, this was more than a little unfair on the South American, who was forced into a corner, with recovering from a career-threatening injury, adjusting to a new club and adapting to a new way of life just three of many factor blocking his path.
Naturally, in a United side that struggled to put any form of true identity in place Falcao flopped, with four goals a pretty meagre return. However, at Chelsea he should, in theory, be given more time and with a back-up role to Diego Costa awaiting, he won’t be expected to be the main man.
Love or loathe the Portuguese tactician, he’s certainly among a small pack of truly elite managers. He will do anything to win… Poke rivals in the eye? Yep. Park the bus? You bet. Tailor his team to get the best out of what he got available? Certainly.
It’s a minor miracle that Mourinho extracted goals from a creaking Didier Drogba last season, and with some of his efforts extremely important – a vital header at Old Trafford springs to mind – it’s easy to imagine that the ex-Real Madrid and Inter Milan coach will be able to eek every last drop of quality from a player of Falcao’s pedigree.
It’s extremely cliché to suggest that the Premier League is all about physicality, but English football does have a more demanding edge in that respect. The level of technical quality may not be on a par with Spain, while tactical intelligence is associated with Italian football, and with Falcao having spent the bulk of his career in Portugal and Spain he may well have been used to having more time on the ball.
Many world-class foreign talents have found the debut campaign to be the most challenging, but now the 29-year-old has come through he’ll be able to take what he’s learned and apply it to his game. With a full pre-season behind him and the ability to work under a manager with proven Premier League experience, things could get much, much better.
The old adage says form is temporary, but class is permanent. Falcao can take much solace from that, with the Colombian’s record through the years with River Plate, Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco – albeit he played very few games at the Stade Louis II – nothing short of exemplary. In both Spain and Portugal he averaged better than a goal every other game, while despite being at the very start of his career in Argentina he regularly found the back of the net for, arguably, the biggest club side in the nation.
For Colombia he has a more than respectable record of 25 in 61, and among his medal collection he boasts domestic leagues and cups, as well as the Europa League.
*Puts tin hat on* Chelsea have better players that Manchester United. The league table doesn’t lie, and with the Blues finishing a whopping 17 points ahead of the Red Devils the divide in quality is pretty clear.
While the likes of Angel di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick are by no means Sunday league plodders, at Stamford Bridge Falcao will be supported by the most creative midfielder in the division (Cesc Fabregas – 18 assists) and the official best player (Eden Hazard), plus whomever the Londoners sign this summer!