1st September 2014, Colombian superstar Radamel Falcao joins English giants Manchester United on a season long loan from Monaco.
The deal saw Falcao earn a mammoth £265,000-a-week at United. Fast forward seven months and Falcao cuts a frustrated figure. Substituted in a 1-1 draw against Spurs playing for United’s under-21 side, typifying what was a disappointing season at Old Trafford.
It would appear that Chelsea are set to take a large gamble in bringing Falcao back to the Premier League. Although, could he prove to be a success at Stamford Bridge?
As Chelsea fans know all too well, Falcao on form is arguably the most lethal striker on the planet, as he proved when he devastated the Blues with a hat-trick in the 4-1 UEFA Super Cup final victory back in 2012. His success on the pitch resulted in large amounts of interest from some of the biggest clubs in the world, most notably Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Andre Villas-Boas made Falcao a top target while in charge at Chelsea, following his move from Porto, where Falcao had played a starring role in the side. While the move never came to fruition, Falcao continued to turn heads at Chelsea throughout his spell at Atletico Madrid, where he scored 52 goals in just 68 appearances.
He eventually moved to Monaco in a £51 million move, but it now appears that Chelsea have finally landed their man.
Falcao is renowned for being a poacher, with most of his goals coming from in and around the 18-yard box, which would be well matched to Chelsea’s style of play under Mourinho. This vastly differs from the much-criticised style of play that Louis van Gaal incorporated into his Manchester United side, where long-ball tactics were often utilised, making it difficult for Falcao to craft any clear chances in front of goal.
A disappointing season resulted in just four goals for the colombian striker. However, Chelsea’s style of play is much more suited to Falcao’s strengths. The likes of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, two of last seasons most prolific chance creators, would provide a lot more opportunities in areas where ‘El Tigre’ is more likely to capitalise on them.
Last season, of Chelsea’s 73 league goals scored, 66 of them were scored inside the box, 11 more than United managed. Also, interestingly, Chelsea dominated the top of the Premier League assist chart, with Cesc Fabregas assisting six goals for Diego Costa and four for Eden Hazard, a chart which United do not feature on.
Diego Costa has undoubtedly been one of the stars of Chelsea’s title-winning season, and the duo have already experienced playing in the same side while at Atletico Madrid. Costa was often used in support of Falcao, a combination which yielded a phenomenal return of 31 goals in just 20 starts together, a ratio of 1.8 goals per game. The pair formed a connection on the pitch. Costa’s willingness to battle for the ball in deeper areas meant that Falcao could remain the team’s outright goalscorer.
The pair were deadly together throughout the 2012/13 season, and they even brought down Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side in the 2013 Copa del Rey final. Although, Falcao is more likely to be Costa’s number two, rather than his strike partner, while at Chelsea, but Mourinho will be eager to see whether the pair can reignite their fearsome partnership in the Premier League.
Many believe that Falcao’s poor form in England was down to a knee injury suffered before the World Cup, and the subsequent rushed rehabilitation to try and get him ready to compete in Brazil which ultimately failed.
Whilst the injury healed long ago it appears the psychological effects still linger, which wasn’t helped by the lack of opportunities at United. Mourinho, famed for inspiring confidence in players, will no doubt manage Falcao’s confidence like he has done for so many others in past.
As Frank Lampard claimed, “Mourinho was the best. For me he was. He brought my confidence to a level it had never been.”
Perhaps this, above all else, will be enough for El Tigre to earn his stripes at Chelsea.