The Colombia international has played only eight matches in Europe’s premier club competition but is set to play a starring role for Monaco this time around
Radamel Falcao might have had his problems over two years spent on loan at Manchester United and Chelsea, but it remains remarkable that a striker considered so formidable in the modern-day game has such little Champions League experience.
By the time that the Colombian turns out for Monaco against Tottenham on Wednesday, if indeed he is selected by Leonardo Jardim after playing just a few minutes following a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, it will have been exactly 2381 days since he last played in the competition.
Fittingly, he picks up in London, where he signed off in a 5-0 last-16 second-leg defeat against Arsenal in March 2010 after grabbing the winner in Portugal three weeks earlier.
But after a couple of seasons in the doldrums, it appears he is back to his best and finally ready to assault Europe’s top competition for just a second time.
After leaving Porto he joined Atletico Madrid, who were not at that time in the full swing of the Diego Simeone revolution. Seventy goals in barely 90 matches in the Spanish capital made him one of Europe’s most sought-after forwards, but instead of moving to a genuine heavyweight, the money-laden Monaco project attracted him.
It was a move that earned him the reputation of a Champions League dodger, and this was not aided by a switch to a Manchester United side recovering from the hangover of Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and bereft of top-level football.
If anything can be extrapolated from the mere eight matches that Falcao has played in the competition previously, it is that the 30-year-old is more than able to make the grade. From eight matches, including two each against Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Arsenal, he has scored four goals.
“I’m confident he will get back to his best this season with Monaco,” Vadim Vasilyev, the vice president of the principality club declared to The Guardian, while launching an attack on the Premier League sides who took him on loan.
“Whereas English clubs failed to relaunch Falcao, maybe because they didn’t have the patience or willingness to do so, at Monaco this will be his season.
“When you take a player after a big injury you cannot count on a miracle to happen and he starts performing from the first game.
“The big clubs need results immediately, they don’t have the patience to relaunch the player. You need time, you need to put up a special plan and strategy, increase playing time gradually and know in advance that the player will not be performing at his top level immediately.”
The indications are that the Stade Louis II club’s patience will be rewarded. During pre-season he looked back to his predatory best, and during the two competitive starts he made against Fenerbahce in the third qualifying round for the Champions League, he bagged a couple of goals.
As Vasilyev stressed, the Colombia international will need time to regain his feet, and he cannot be expected to be decisive against Tottenham, but any competitive minutes he does get in the Champions League will be a major step on his road back to becoming a feared forward.