What has gone so wrong for this star Chelsea Striker?
In January 2012, whilst playing for AS Monaco during a French Cup match against fourth-division team Chasselay, Radamel Falcao was on the receiving end of a terrible lunging challenge from opposition defender Soner Ertek. The 27-year-old striker was later transported to Portugal to see specialist José Carlos Noronha. He confirmed the diagnosis was a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament in the Colombian’s left knee, and his participation in the 2014 World Cup due to take place that summer was immediately put in doubt.
Five months down the line it was confirmed Falcao would not take place at the tournament as his name was absent from Colombia’s final 25 man list. After the tournament was over; one in which Los Cafeteros had a hugely successful World Cup by their standards, Falcao returned to training with Monaco and started looking towards the season ahead including the 2015 Copa America. He took part in the club’s pre-season fixtures including matches against Arsenal in the Emirates Cup and it looked as though he would soon return to his former free-scoring self. However, Falcao did not see his future at Monaco and managed to squeeze himself a season long loan deal to Manchester United in the dying hours of the summer transfer window. The rest; as they say, is history.
Falcao was deemed not worthy of Manchester United, sent back to Monaco with four Barclays Premier League goals in 29 appearances and his £43million price tag laughed at all the way back to the principality. At a career defining age of 29, is he worth that money? Louis van Gaal; who had already wasted £6m and £280,000 per week on a loan gamble that failed, did not.
No longer deadly or scintillating to watch, any thoughts that it was down to the style of play utilised by Van Gaal in Manchester were firmly rejected at the Copa America this past summer, where the Colombian striker was about as useful as a fish trying to climb a tree. The forward made four appearances in Chile, playing 252 minutes. His contribution was zero goals, zero assists, six shots with only one on target which translates into 16.67 per cent accuracy. Just a single chance created shows how he didn’t contribute personally and also gave next to nothing to his team-mates. It was the performance of a player bereft of confidence and hardly one that suggested he was once one of the finest goal scorers in the world.
Fast forward to the new season, champions Chelsea remained interested in his services. Why? What did the “Special One” see that no-one else could in the former Atlético hitman? In Signing for Chelsea, Radamel Falcao has bought himself a lifeline in English football, one last shot at succeeding in a league that is forever getting harder to compete in. Before he got that second opportunity though, he had a pre-season tour of North America to get to know his new team-mates and perhaps maybe just maybe show us a glimpse of the old Falcao.
July 25th proved to possibly be Falcao’s judgement day just one match into his Chelsea career. If it had gone well for the Colombian, we may have been discussing him in a different light but; as we all feared, he failed to have any noteworthy impact in the Champions Cup fixture against French champions PSG, other than scoring from the spot during a penalty shootout. Still, some fans reserved hope for him as he got another chance a few days later against Barcelona, a team which he had no problem scoring against in his La Liga days. For Falcao he must have felt a great sense of déja vu; as I am sure most of us did, as he once again failed to have the desired impact and it took him until another penalty shootout to find the back of the net.
Once the first few weeks of the season have been dismissed; since Falcao did nothing worth a mention, you come across the match played on the 29th August at Stamford Bridge in which Falcao finally had something to cheer about. He scored his first Chelsea goal from open play after a delightful cross from another summer addition; Pedro, who was showing the luckless forward how easy it seemed to come and fit straight into things at Chelsea. Although the match ended in a 2-1 defeat for the Blues, Falcao could walk off the pitch with his head held high knowing he had at least given Chelsea a fighting chance in the match which they failed to take advantage of.
Perhaps he was even sensing greener grass over the horizon and felt as though he had turned a corner and could reignite his stricken career. Sadly for Radamel Falcao, he was once again relegated to the bench for the following matches to serve as an understudy to Diego Costa and Loic Remy. He has now found himself back on the treatment table for a few weeks with a “slight muscular injury” as confirmed by Jose Mourinho before Chelsea’s home match against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.
The despondent Special One must be wondering if the gamble on Falcao was one step too far even for him. It is likely that Mourinho would secretly admit that he cannot fulfil his wish of showing English football the real Falcao, despite his proclamations in the summer. “If I can help Falcao reach his level again, I will do it. It hurts me that people in England think that the real Falcao is the one we saw at Manchester United.” These were the words of Mourinho when it was first announced Falcao was coming. He may well be wishing he could take those words back.
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