Only three years ago, Radamel Falcao was untouchable. He was possibly the world’s most prolific striker with one of the greatest goals to games ratios in the history of football. That all changed after the player suffered an anterior-cruciate injury in 2014, which caused him to lose the deadly acceleration he used to rely on to poach goals. Now back at Monaco and struggling with injury concerns once again, fans are wondering whether El Tigre will ever be able to return to excellence and justify his whopping transfer tag.
When Monaco signed Falcao for €60million in 2013, they were expecting to have the most dangerous striker on the continent at their disposal, in the hope of pushing for a first Ligue 1 win since the turn of the millennium. Paris Saint-Germain continue to be the dominant force in the French top flight however, with the latest Ligue 1 betting odds placing them at 2/9 to storm to the title again. After nine rounds of fixtures, Monaco sit third in the league- four points behind the champions.
When he joined Monaco, Falcao was coming off the back of two incredible seasons with Atletico Madrid (see below) where he had notched up 53 goals in 69 appearances. Instead of carrying on this explosive form, though, the man nicknamed “The King of the Europa League” had his first season cut drastically short by the harrowing knee injury that he has never bounced back from.
Failed loan spells at Manchester United and Chelsea may have served to improve Falcao’s fitness levels, but his failure to recapture any of his past form and his banishment to the bench for the majority of the fixtures was a huge blow to the striker’s confidence. In 36 appearances at both clubs he only managed to muster a total of 5 goals. The idea behind the loan spells wasn’t only to cut wage costs, but was also to slowly coax the 30-year-old back to his best. When he returned to Monaco, however, the Ligue 1 club retained a player who was psychologically battered and bruised.
In the summer, Falcao gave fans a cause for optimism. He began pre-season in fine fettle, bagging a brace and a goal in successive matches against Sporting Lisbon and Zenit Saint Petersburg. The Colombian said that he was beginning to feel as though he was in good shape, and was looking forward to the season ahead. Unfortunately, thigh and head injuries have meant he has only made four appearances so far this season, scoring one goal in the process.
Looking at the recent resurgence of Fernando Torres could provide Falcao fans with a glimmer of hope. The Spaniard peaked at Liverpool, scoring an impressive 65 goals in 102 Premier League appearances. He suffered the exact same injury as Falcao towards the end of his spell on Merseyside, and subsequently his move to Chelsea was a complete failure – he managed to accrue a mere 20 goals in 110 league games. Last season with Atletico Madrid the 32-year-old did manage to find his shooting boots again, though, and put away eleven goals in La Liga.
Falcao hasn’t featured in a game for Monaco since suffering from a concussion on 21 September. Encouragingly however, he is back in training and could soon return to the starting line-up. This could be the make-or-break season for the former Atletico man, and fans are sure to be willing him back to his former brilliance.