Once rated as one of football’s most lethal strikers, the Colombian hit-man had a drastic fall from grace during his two year spell in England, but seems to be finally back to his very best

It’s safe to say Radamel Falcao has enjoyed a roller-coaster of a ride in his last five years; witnessing the highest of highs only to come crashing down to his career’s lowest ebb soon after. His name at one point, was enough to terrorize even the very best of defenders in the La Liga, such was the Colombian’s ruthless efficiency in front of the goal.

Falcao’s numbers speak for themselves – 72 goals in 82 matches for Porto meant Atletico Madrid paid a club record €50 million to acquire his services. In his debut season for the Spanish club, Falcao scored 36 goals in 52 appearances, followed by 34 goals in 41 matches in 2012/13.

At his peak of his prowess, the striker was the undisputed best player in the world after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Not surprisingly, there was a huge tug-of-war for the player between various top European clubs like Manchester City, Real Madrid, Chelsea and PSG among others, when it was confirmed Falcao had decided to move elsewhere in the summer of 2013. Ultimately, the then newly cash-rich Monaco won the race for the coveted forward, with reports suggesting Falcao’s agent Jorge Mendes being the mastermind behind the move as he enjoyed a good relationship with Monaco’s new Russian owners.

Radamel’s start to life in France was good given the circumstances, scoring on 11 occasions in his first 19 matches. But then came the turning point in the former Atletico Madrid striker’s life.

Around the third week of January 2014, Falcao sustained an Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, due to which he had to be ruled out for the rest of the season. The timeline to recover from the injury was said to be six months, which meant Radamel missed out on his dream of representing Colombia in the 2014 World Cup.

The forward recovered from his ACL injury during the pre-season of 2014/15 and scored two goals in the three league games for Monaco, However, rumours soon began to circulate the club were on a hunt for a potential suitor for Falcao.

On the last day of transfer window and just hours before the closure, Manchester United announced the Colombian hitman had joined the club, albeit on loan, with an option to sign the striker permanently for €55 million at the end of the season.

The deal suited both the parties completely, and it seemed it could turn out to be a potentially successful one on face value. Falcao’s long-term injury meant there were some doubts if the player could recover back to his best, so a loan move for a year made perfect sense.

If the player succeeded, Manchester United could sign him for £43.5 million, which in today’s market is a fair value for a world-class striker.

But as it turned out, the move couldn’t have been more disastrous for Falcao. The player, after a decent start, could not sustain his consistency and often ended the game with a blank slate. His general play looked lethargic and his well-known predatory instincts were missing from his game.

Eventually, Louis van Gaal lost confidence in the player, and it all went downhill from thereon. Falcao was even made to play for the U21s side, a day after being an unused substitute in a FA Cup game. Radamel Falcao ended the season with only 4 goals in 29 appearances for the Red Devils. Not surprisingly, United chose not to utilize their option on the player at the end of the season.

Not all was lost for Falcao, with Jose Mourinho offering a chance to the striker to redeem himself with Chelsea. The deal was similar to the one with Manchester United – a one-year loan with an option to make it permanent at the end of the year for £38 million.

Many predicted the Falcao to have a much better season as he had the company of former Atletico Madrid team-mates Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois as well as Colombian national team colleague, Juan Cuadrado at Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho also said to have been huge admirer of the striker.

Unfortunately for Falcao, his stay at London was hampered by a groin injury, which kept him sidelined for almost four and a half months. A lot changed during that period, with Jose Mourinho getting the sack due to Chelsea’s consistently poor results.

Guus Hiddink was announced as the interim manager, and the Dutchman added Alexandre Pato to the roster in January, which meant Falcao was deemed surplus upon his recovery from injury in mid-March 2016.

Chelsea also chose not to exercise their option on Falcao, with the striker starting a match only twice in the whole 2015/16 season.

Monaco's Colombian forward Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match Monaco (ASM) vs Nancy (ASNL) on November 5, 2016 at the "Louis II Stadium" in Monaco. / AFP / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Monaco’s Colombian forward Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match Monaco (ASM) vs Nancy (ASNL) on November 5, 2016 at the “Louis II Stadium” in Monaco. (Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Not one to be affected by setbacks, El Tigre returned to his parent club Monaco in the summer, and worked incredibility hard behind the scenes in the pre-season to reach near the level he once used to be at. And his hard work seems to be finally paying off.

Falcao has already scored eight goals in 10 matches, and this is after missing almost two months due to injuries. Monaco are placed second, with only 3 points behind league leaders Nice. They are also at top of their group in the Champions League, which consists of teams like Spurs and Bayer Leverkusen, with Falcao playing a crucial role in both.

The striker’s comeback after the tough period has earned plaudits from manager Leonardo Jardim, who insists the team can achieve something great with Falcao.

Radamel Falcao needs to be lauded for choosing the path of proving himself again when he could have easily gone the China route for a big-money contract. The striker has proved time and time again that he’s a fighter on the pitch and his efforts are finally coming to fruition with Monaco.

The player has been rewarded for his hard work with a recall by Colombia for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers, after a absence of almost 13 months from the National team.

‘The Tiger’ is indeed back.

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