Radamel Falcao García’s horrid time in England is finally coming to an end. Is it time for the Colombian international to return somewhere he’s loved? Ask Fernando Torres and the answer will be simple.
Name two high-profile strikers who were lethal and dominating for Atlético Madrid and went on to be complete disappointments at Chelsea… it could be a trivia question someday, somewhere.
Fernando Torres, 32, and Radamel Falcao García, 30, are separated by two years in terms of age, but they could also be separated by two years in terms of fortune. It was in the summer of 2014 that Torres finally left Chelsea behind after crumbling under the pressure and wildly underperforming. Now, two years later, it’s the Colombian international who’s on the verge of leaving the same club in disappointment and shame.
Torres and Falcao could be living parallel stories, just at different times. The Spaniard, like the Colombian, lost his scoring touch and his confidence in England after a £50 million move to Stamford Bridge from Liverpool. Torres would only regain his form after returning to a place he knows and loves, which is a lesson Falcao would be smart to learn as he approaches his own dance with uncertainty.
After a dreadful time at Chelsea, Torres was shipped to A.C. Milan, where he continued to disappoint. With a career in shambles, ‘El Niño’ turned to former club Atlético, where he had made a name for himself after scoring 82 times in 214 games. Whether it was for old times’ sake or they saw something no else saw, the Madrid club took him back in the winter of 2015. Still, with players like Jackson Martínez and Luciano Vietto battling for a spot up front, it was perceived that Torres would spend 2016 on the bench, coming in sporadically as the team searched for glory in Spanish and European competitions.
What happened was much different.
Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone started to put his trust on Torres more than on his younger strikers and ‘El Niño’ answered. Slowly but consistently, Torres reacted to the trust and confidence he couldn’t find at Chelsea, scoring 10 goals in all competitions this season. And while he’s not exactly back to his old self (a clear indication of that was missing a crucial penalty against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semifinal), the fact remains: he’s an involved and true part of the squad that will play the Champions League final.
Just like it happened with Torres a couple of seasons ago, Falcao has become a punchline in England. With one goal in 11 appearances for Chelsea, the ‘El Tigre’ is set to leave the Premier League, where he also disappointed with Manchester United the season before. As his situation unravels, Falcao and his agents must be looking at Torres’ recent history. If they’re not, they should.
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Falcao has not been the same after sustaining an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in his left knee in 2014. And while he swears his injuries are a thing of the past, his performances on the field beg to differ as he’s only scored five goals in two seasons. Incoming Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has reportedly told the Colombian forward that his time at Stamford Bridge is done, leaving him in an uncertain spot.
Falcao recently admitted that he would consider a move to Major League Soccer, saying that “In England they are showing the [MLS] games and I have some friends who play in it who I played with in River Plate or Porto like [Federico] Higuaín or [Diego] Valeri.”
Going to the Unites States could be an unfortunate turn of events for a player that was once considered the best pure finisher in the world. While there is no shame in playing in a growing league like MLS, the way he would be arriving would imply defeat in Europe… an early end to a once brilliant career.
There could be other options, however, as Torres’ rise from the ashes suggests. Falcao was a star at Atlético Madrid and they certainly know how effective he can be in the right environment. If they could revive Torres, why not revive Falcao?
Sadly, there have been no communications between the striker and his former club, according to Atlético president Enrique Cerezo.
“Radamel Falcao? He’s been injured and we don’t know the extent,” Cerezo told Spanish radio station Onda Cero. “Nobody has offered Falcao to us. If his agents have been in contact with the club, I don’t know about it.”
Falcao’s agents should get on that. Or they could knock on Porto’s door, a place where he was turning heads before his move to Madrid. Either way, Falcao could benefit from a place he used to call home, just like Torres.
If all that fails, the Colombian star could then set his sights in a return to South America, where former club River Plate apparently waits for him with open arms.
“If he wants to play at River we will move mountains to bring him back,” said River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio recently.
Torres needed to return to a place he was familiar with in order to get back to his scoring ways. Falcao would be smart to try a similar approach.