Falcao: A fit or a misfit?
With the season done and dusted, the English champions have now turned their attention to the transfer market. With Drogba having announced his departure from the club, Chelsea are in need of a supporting striker to Diego Costa.
Although Loic Remy has been effective in Costa’s absence, something tells us that Jose Mourinho does not quite trust Remy to lead the line.
Chelsea’s requirement would be of a man who can be physical, quick and someone who isn’t afraid of getting aggressive. Chelsea have got a perfect striker in Diego Costa. However, the Spanish international has had recurring hamstring injuries since his Atletico Madrid days and cannot be relied on to play all the matches.
Jose Mourinho’s hunt for a striker has gotten him to narrow his crosshairs on Radamel Falcao. With speculations rife that Falcao could partner Costa in what appears to be a lethal attacking combination, let us analyse if Falcao fits Chelsea’s bill.
Ever since the 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea have been monitoring Falcao’s situation. The Colombian outclassed every Chelsea defender that night scoring three top class goals.
The first involved a stunning counter attack by Atletico Madrid where Falcao was found to make an off the shoulder run before delightfully chipping Petr Cech into the goal. The second goal was even better as Falcao, with his weaker left foot, curled the ball past Petr Cech into the top left corner. He capped off his hat-trick by a neat finish through Cech’s legs from the left side of the goal. The three goals showcased what Falcao could bring to a team: pace, power and technique.
Falcao’s move to AS Monaco, despite Chelsea’s interest, seemed quite surprising at that moment. From then on, Falcao’s career has been on a downhill. A serious knee injury at Monaco saw him sit out not only the second half of the season for the Ligue 1 side but also the World Cup. On being declared fit before the pre-season, Falcao chose to join the Manchester United ranks, hoping to reignite the fire.
However, it all went horribly wrong for the ex-Porto man as he managed to score only 4 goals in the 26 Premier League games he was involved in. Plenty of factors contributed to this. Falcao had lost the searing pace he had before the injury. He had also lost the spring in the jump to head the balls in. To add to this, the odd places where he was deployed by Louis Van Gaal further dented his confidence. One could also argue that at United, Falcao did not get the right kind of service suited to his game.
With the doom and gloom of Manchester United behind him, Chelsea are ready to offer Falcao a second chance to prove himself in the Premier League. However, it must be seen if Falcao is really the striker that Chelsea want or is he another one of the Torres and Shevchenkos that will eventually not fit at Chelsea.
A case against Falcao:
Jose Mourinho usually deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation. Going with the lone striker leaves Jose to choose from three of his strikers (should Falcao join Chelsea). With Diego Costa in rampant form last season, Remy and Falcao would hardly make the cut for the first choice striker. Mourinho has also shown in his entire managerial career that he does not like to tinker with his first choice XI. That means that even before arriving at the club, Falcao is going to be seen as a second choice striker. A move like this could further reduce the Colombian’s game time at Chelsea. Instead of resurrecting his career, he could very well end up going down a step more. Or could we somehow see a different Mourinho now? Unlikely.
Along with this, Chelsea’s game is designed around a striker who links up play well and is also not afraid to run behind defenders at will. Falcao, even though his link up is decent, still does not match up to Diego Costa’s link up play. Falcao’s lack of pace to get behind the defenders also gives Costa the edge over him. One place where Falcao excels is his hold up play. However, Costa is no newcomer to this either. Costa’s hold up play is probably as good as Falcao’s if not better. It seems the roles will be reversed for the two ex-Atletico forward if both of them are in the same team next season.
At Atletico Madrid and at Porto, Falcao usually played a game which involved counter attacking with short nippy passes from front to back in a matter of seconds. However, ever since the arrival of Fabregas and the emergence of Hazard, Chelsea have either resorted to a possession style of play or have used a more pragmatic defensive approach, both of which do not suit Falcao. Falcao hardly possesses the aggression needed in the English top flight. At United too, he found it difficult to cope with the physical side of the game and ended up giving the ball away too many times. His 55% shot accuracy in the entire season suggests his dramatic fall since the last 2 seasons.
A case for Falcao:
Chelsea provides Falcao another chance to revive his career. Where Van Gaal was quite public about his opinion on Falcao’s poor performance, Mourinho is someone who would protect his players till the last game. Under Mourinho, Falcao could find a perfect tutor and also a comforting shoulder to rest on. A brilliant man manager, Mourinho could provide Falcao the much-needed boost to restore his lost confidence.
On the more tactical front, Mourinho could use Falcao in the ending 25-30 minutes of every game to give rest to an overcommitted, injury prone Costa. This would provide Falcao enough time to prove his mettle and also keep Chelsea away from over relying on Costa. Another good thing about this move would be that Falcao will be slowly instilled into the team and also in the last 30 minutes could give his all for Chelsea, thereby staking a claim at the starting lineup. If Chelsea are losing a game, Falcao could act as the perfect target man for the Pensioners as they usually resort to thumping long desperate balls forward.
With Fabregas in the team and Hazard and Willian providing pace, Chelsea could easily shift to the counter-attacking game which suits Falcao and could end up benefitting the 29-year-old striker. Falcao’s intelligent runs could also help Fabregas make the killer pass to set up goals.This would give Mourinho an extra dimension to play with apart from the plan A of using Costa at front.
The Final Verdict:
The hand of justice is on the knife edge for Falcao at the moment. However, the weight on the ‘cases against’ the move is slightly heavy at the moment. Falcao, although could provide Chelsea with a lethal striker, could also turn out to be another big money flop. With the likes of Christian Benteke and Jackson Martinez available in the market, it remains to be seen whether Mourinho goes for Falcao this season or resorts to a more dynamic striker.
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Edited By: Ojas Tripathi
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