Radamel Falcao’s hat trick against Athletic Bilbao a couple of weeks ago caused a pleasant stir in Spain over what Diego Simeone was doing at Atletico Madrid. In fairness, the Basque club were absolutely woeful on the day and more than gifted the three points to Atletico, while also allowing Falcao to rampage through their defence and grab three of the four goals. But following a similarly impressive performance against Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup, are we being too quick to assume Falcao would join the Premier League and even feel totally at home?
I have no doubts that Falcao would be a success in England and tear apart very competent and good defences. He’s a striker who seems to fit the bill of the complete forward in the same way that Ronaldo and Thierry Henry did: pace, power and exquisite finishing. So why wouldn’t any of the big teams in England aggressively chase his signature? Why would a representative from Roman Abramovich’s close circle smuggle their way into the Atletico dressing room at talk up the potential destination at Stamford Bridge?
What many are overlooking is just how much of a pull the two big clubs in Spain are for Falcao, and specifically Real Madrid. Barcelona may at some point find the need to shop for alternatives for in attack that may be bordering on the predictable now. However, the Catalan club’s finances mean they’d be more likely to aim for Fernando Llorente in the new year.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid has been talked up as a very real and desirable destination for Falcao. There’s no mistaking the influence Real have in South America, with many youngsters on that continent aspiring to play in Spain rather than for Manchester United or Liverpool. It’s the same draw that forced Cristiano Ronaldo to dream even bigger and opt for a move to Real, and it’s the same draw that saw Sergio Aguero attempt to swap Atletico for Real prior to his move to Manchester City last summer.
Falcao’s price is certainly not beyond Florentino Perez, and despite the spending clearly slowing down somewhat in recent summers, Real Madrid would pay big to land players like Falcao and Aguero. The issues, however, are a little more difficult to work around. You firstly have the problem of Atletico not wishing to do business with their city rivals, even though the financial factor wouldn’t waver. Players have represented both teams in the past, but there hasn’t been a direct switch between the two clubs for a number of years. The most recent but by no means high-profile transfer was Jose Manuel Jurado, now of Schalke.
The other problem—although it’s not strictly a “problem”—is the issue of Real already possessing two world class forwards. Gonzalo Higuain has been reassured of his position in the side, starting most of the games this season including one of the ties against Barcelona. Jose Mourinho is clearly happy with the options he has at his disposal and it’s very difficult to replace what either Karim Benzema or Higuain bring to the side; it’s not just about scoring goals for Real Madrid, but there needs to be an understanding of roles and work ethic as well.
This might lead to the only option for Falcao being the Premier League, as his father mentioned recently. Atletico’s financial problems are well-documented and they’d most likely consider a big offer somewhere down the line. But is it where the player wants to be? Furthermore, the issue of FFP means there would be an even smaller group of teams vying for his signature than there currently is. Where does he fit in at a club like Manchester City who struggle to move on many of their players? What happens to Fernando Torres and the fee spent on him if Falcao arrives?
Despite what the player’s father says, Falcao seems intent to remain in Spain. He’s stated his desire to help Atletico to more trophies and to do well with his national side. After that, he clearly sees his future in the white of Real Madrid.
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