Mascherano: Falcao not finished

The Barcelona defender has little doubt the Colombian attacker will soon be back to his best as their respective nations get set to collide in Chile

Argentina’s Javier Mascherano remains convinced of Radamel Falcao’s enduring class, but hopes that the Colombia striker does not show it in Friday’s Copa America quarter-final.

The sides meet in the last eight of the competition with neither having hit the heights perhaps expected, with Falcao struggling in a Colombia side that scored just once in Group C.

The Monaco man’s role in Jose Pekerman’s set-up has been questioned, with James Rodriguez forced out wide despite flourishing in a more central role at the World Cup last year in Falcao’s injury-enforced absence.

Falcao failed to find his feet on loan at Manchester United last season, but Mascherano maintains the 29-year-old will recover the form he showed prior to a serious knee injury sustained early in 2014.

“I have not only played against Radamel Falcao, but also in the same team as him with River Plate. I know him very well,” Mascherano told reporters.

“Obviously, he is a player with a a very important role. He is still missing some continuity after a very serious injury. He tried his best to be able to play the World Cup, but he could not.

“After this, the most important thing is to play a lot of minutes and, for different circumstances, he could not do that at his club even though Falcao has demonstrated that he is one of the best you can find at a worldwide level.

“It is a matter of time. I have no doubt that at some point, the best Falcao will show. I hope that this won’t happen [on Friday].”

Falcao, Varane, Pogba – who should Chelsea sign this summer?

The Blues have been linked with a host of big names as they look to defend the two trophies they won in 2015-16, but who should they be looking to bring in?

While most of the Premier League’s top sides look to overhaul their squads, Chelsea and Jose Mourinho look set to stick with the majority of the side that won the Premier League so impressively last season.

However, that does not mean that the Stamford Bridge side are not looking to add a couple of new faces to their team ahead of the 2015-16 campaign.

The first of those players set to arrive is Radamel Falcao, and the Monaco striker, who flopped at Manchester United last season, is on the verge of completing a switch to the champions on a one-year loan deal.

That is unlikely to be the only bit of business Mourinho does this summer, as he may well be looking to strengthen his midfield in a bid to make a push for the Champions League.

The Blues are among a host of clubs locked in a battle to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus with the France international looking set to leave Turin, while Shakhtar Donetsk’s Douglas Costa may be a more affordable option.

Further back, links with Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane refuse to go away with the 22-year-old struggling to hold down a regular place at Santiago Bernabeu.

And though Mourinho has refuted claims he is keen on Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, it remains a possibility that the former Real Sociedad man could join the Premier League champions.

But which player should Mourinho be making his primary target? Have your say in the poll below…

VIDEO: How woeful is this Falcao dive?

The 29-year-old took an embarrassing tumble after just four minutes in the goalless draw with Peru at the Copa America on Sunday

It’s just not going well for Radamel Falcao at the Copa America. We’ve seen three subdued performances from the striker, while he capped Sunday’s display against Peru with an embarrassing dive after just four minutes in the goalless draw.
Goal understands that Chelsea are closing in on a deal for the 29-year-old, while Jose Mourinho has been at the centre of the Premier League champions’ push to sign the forward from Monaco.

But based on his performances during his unsuccessful loan spell at Manchester United, and at the Copa America this month, should Mourinho still be pursuing a move?

Check out his dive in the video below…

Falcao hints at imminent Chelsea move

The Premier League champions are closing in on a move for the 29-year-old, while Filipe Luis and Willian back the striker to shine at Stamford Bridge

Radamel Falcao has hinted that his move to Chelsea could be imminent.

The Premier League champions appear to be closing in on a deal for the 29-year-old, while Jose Mourinho has been at the centre of the club’s efforts to sign the striker from Monaco this summer.

Falcao is currently with the Colombia squad at the Copa America and after his country’s win over Brazil on Thursday, the forward was asked if the reports claiming he is close to joining Chelsea are true.

“It can be, you will know soon,” Falcao said with a smile.

“I’m just thinking of the Copa America and the squad. My staff are taking care of this.”

Filipe Luis featured for Brazil in their 1-0 defeat to Colombia and the left-back has supported Chelsea’s move for Falcao, despite his return of four goals in 29 appearances during his loan spell with Manchester United last season.

“I played with Radamel Falcao at Atletico, he’s a great player,” said Luis.

“I’m not sure if it’s official, but I’m sure he’d be very welcome and it would help Chelsea a lot to continue to win trophies.”

Luis’ Chelsea and Brazil team-mate Willian also believes Falcao will be a success at Stamford Bridge.

“Falcao is a great player, a striker that knows how to score. I am sure he will help us a lot. I hope he can be happy at Chelsea,” said the midfielder.

Hey Jose, forget Falcao and find the real Cuadrado

COMMENT: Chelsea are thought to be close to securing a deal for the Colombian forward but Mourinho should look to get more from his January signing instead

By Peter Staunton in Santiago

Even the most ardent Colombia supporters are beginning to agonise over Radamel Falcao. Once, they watched the player who they believed to be the very best striker in the world. He has plainly not been the same player since joining Monaco and his cruciate knee ligament injury in the run up to last year’s World Cup effectively ended his prime.

Colombia fans once would once have excused anything Falcao did on the pitch. If he misplaced a pass, took a bad first touch or was bullied off the ball with his back to goal then they would think “don’t worry, it’s Falcao.” Now, as those passes go further astray, those first touches run further from his feet and that upper body strenth betrays him, they accept the reality of the situation. Their captain is done. They’ll whisper it but will admit that he scarcely deserves to start any more. Yes, he is their top scorer but Jackson Martinez appears to be a far better option these days while Carlos Bacca deserves his shot as central striking option.

Falcao, since his injury in January 2014 has scored five goals for Colombia; one each against El Salvador, Kuwait and Costa Rica and a double against Bahrain. He had one shot in 90 minutes against Venezuela on Sunday in the first match of the Copa America. Now if his most loyal fans have as good as given up on him, what is it that makes Jose Mourinho believe that he can find the best in Falcao after securing a season-long loan move to Chelsea?

That the two share a representative in Jorge Mendes is more than co-incidental and it will no small favour to the Portuguese superagent that his most high-profile client has found himself yet another high-profile club willing to take a punt despite the overwhelming evidence that his day has come.

Falcao scored only four league goals but those figures barely scratch the surface of his struggles. He was hardly on the same page as his Manchester United colleagues all season long. Balls bounced off him, he made the wrong runs. Had a youth team player come into the team and performed as Falcao did, then Louis van Gaal would be sending him straight out on loan. As it stands, Falcao has landed on his feet and secured a move to the English champions. 

“It really hurts me that people in England believe that Falcao is the guy they saw at Manchester United,” Mourinho told DirecTv Sports last week. “He’s a player I know, one that I’ve followed since Atletico Madrid and if I can help Falcao arrive at his level I will do it.”

Despite what he says, Mourinho has no intention of making Falcao his starting forward next season. He never plays with two strikers at Chelsea and Diego Costa, should he stay, will remain first choice. Falcao will feature as a substitute or replacement in the lower-priority matches. Mourinho will not have a lot of time, then, to find the elusive Falcao of Porto and Atletico Madrid. Nonetheless, he has made the pledge to nurture him back to form. Anyone who watched how Fernando Torres continued to flunk under the Special One would feel rightly skeptical about that one. 

Instead of flogging the dead horse that is Falcao, Mourinho would do well to pay attention to the Toothless Tiger’s compatriot, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado. To watch the winger in action for Colombia is a joy. He would have fitted seamlessly into the carefree attacking Colombian unit which boasted Freddy Rincon, Faustino Asprilla and Carlos Valderrama in the 1990s, widely seen as the best Colombia of all time.

He feints, shimmies and dribbles but it is all done with a purpose. He goes by defenders, drawing “olés” from his adoring support like you’d expect at a bullfight when the Matador dodges the bull with his cape. It is not superfluous. It is done with the express intention to find the right place to cross the ball in or play a through pass. Purposeful elegance.

Cuadrado has played this type of electrifying football for as long as Falcao has been inefficient. For Colombia and Fiorentina, that is, because under Mourinho his club football has regressed. There has even been talk about him moving back to Italy with Inter barely six months after joining from la Viola.

“Cuadrado is not going anywhere this summer,” Mourinho has said of the 27-year-old. “People don’t know Cuadrado yet, I have seen him many times when we were both in Italy, me at Inter and him at Udinese. 

“Because of that I have a lot of hopes for him for next season. I hope in the Copa America he can regain his self-esteem, his ego and that he has that joy of playing.” 

The fact of the matter is he has contributed one assist in his time at Chelsea and has, at best, appeared to be a time-wasting substitute for Mourinho and no more. He is in danger of being marginalised. He is in danger of having his career stand still.

Vincenzo Montella built his formidable attacking unit at Fiorentina around the considerable talents of Cuadrado. To extract the best from him, he needs to be a focal point, as he is for Colombia and was for Fiorentina. Watch Colombia’s Copa America defeat to Venezuela again and you will see quite clearly that Cuadrado was the only attacker worth his reputation.

That is the sort of performance that Mourinho must coax from him next season. To neglect him would be deterimental to Chelsea’s chances of taking the Premier League title again; to do so in favour of finding Falcao, the man that isn’t there, would be downright foolish.