Radamel Falcao: Would Chelsea be a good fit for El Tigre?

Radamel Falcao celebrates scoring his first goal in the Premier League against Stoke City. Source: Mark Leech Sports.
Radamel Falcao celebrates scoring his first goal in the Premier League against Stoke City. Source: Mark Leech Sports. /

Radamel Falcao has made it known that he fancies a move away from Monaco, and with Chelsea touted as a possible destination, Joe Soriano explores whether a transfer to Stamford Bridge would be a prudent move

Chelsea have one of the best strikers in the Premier League (and the world) in Diego Costa, who was on a prolific goal-scoring pace before injuries took hold, and an excellent second option in Loic Remy. However, that hasn’t stopped them from being linked to Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, who will return to his parent club after an extremely unsuccessful loan spell with Manchester United last season.

It seems like Falcao has been doing all that he can to try and secure a move to Stamford Bridge, and now the Daily Mail and Di Marzio report that Chelsea have reciprocated interest in the striker. Once a prolific goal-scorer, Falcao now has to rehab his value, though it’s totally unclear where that might be.

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While there are rumors stating that Chelsea have some interest in bringing Falcao aboard, it’s hard to see it happening even with Falcao’s value at its lowest and with his wages set to plummet. Jose Mourinho is willing to spend for top quality, but he won’t throw money around haphazardly when he already has Costa and Remy on the roster. That said, both went down with injuries this season and could easily go down with knocks in the future, so picking up a strong third striker would be wise now that Didier Drogba is gone (they can’t just roll with a “False 9” as a replacement for those two).

Falcao did not produce at all last season, scoring just four goals in 17 league and FA Cup appearances, though he did at least chip in four assists. Utilized as a target man by United, Falcao tried to get others involved with flicks and passes back to midfielders due to the fact that his low morale saw a lack of confidence on the ball.

From all his appearances last season, it’s obvious from the get-go that the work rate is unquestionably there. He wants to succeed as badly as anybody, as he tried his best to make good on this 285,000-pound wages by tracking back, fighting for the ball, and providing options off it.

It was apparent, however, that Falcao’s lack of form had more to do with his recovery from a major ACL injury, which ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup. He looked stiff at times, and was forced into diagonal runs, such as the run he made against Chelsea that led to a shot off the post from a tight angle. It was obvious that Falcao lacked suddenness in his movements, and it prevented him from being a legitimate goal-scoring threat for defenses. Per WhoScored.com, the Colombian star took just 1.5 shots per game, as compared to Wayne Rooney’s 2.4 shots per game in a less advanced attacking role (or Robin van Persie’s 2.8).

As mentioned, the work rate was there for Falcao, and so was the mental acumen that helped make him one of the top strikers in the world (and probably a top ten player overall). He made some smart runs, including one that Laurent Koscielny tracked in time to get a blocked shot on. One of those runs (against West Ham) is presented below in GIF form for some brief analysis.

This one-two somewhat encapsulates Falcao’s strengths and weaknesses this season. On the one hand, you have an excellently headed pass on Falcao’s part and a nice (but rounded and not sharp) turn to instinctively peel off the defender and into a heap of space, but, on the other hand, you also have a poor first touch and a frustrating lack of an end product from a dangerous position. An in-form Falcao would have done a better job of pouncing on this opportunity, but even an out-of-form Falcao was able to create this chance.

There are plenty of interesting clips of Falcao from this past season, and he’s a hard player to get a pulse on. He’s still a valuable commodity because of his talent, effort, and ability in the air. He did a nice job of getting others involved with key passes, and that made up for the fact that his touch even looked off at times. Falcao puts in the effort, but he needs to sign with a team that can make him more of a regular. I know this is the last thing he wants to hear, but he should go to a slightly less prestigious team than Chelsea.

Why? Radamel Falcao is the kind of striker who works best with teammates he’s comfortable with, and that might not happen if he’s the third striker on the Blues roster behind Diego Costa and Remy, who are established when healthy and both played significantly better than Falcao last year. If he cuts his wages enough, it’s not outrageous to think that he can help Chelsea, but it’s not the best idea for him.

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He can fit the team due to his ability to get others involved and his effort (he put in more work defensively in the midfield and is strong in the air), but Falcao simply didn’t create enough chances for himself last season. And when he did, his touch or finish was off, even if he occasionally showed flashes of the world-class striker he once was.

Just as Falcao should sign with a club that can afford to give him the playing time he needs, Chelsea need sign a striker who can play often.

If Chelsea does indeed complete a transfer, we could see Mourinho use more rotations in his squad at the in the no.9 position next season. Most importantly, the Colombian needs to rediscover his form with consistency, and Chelsea is not the best option for him. That said, a possible wage cut would be hard to turn down on Mourinho’s part.

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