Who is Radamel Falcao?
Falcao is a 26 year old striker from Santa Marta, Colombia who currently plays for Atletico Madrid. Listed at only 5′ 10” (1.78m) tall, he does not look physically imposing to his opponents nor much of an aerial threat. Neither could be further from the truth.
What kind of player is he?
When people think of Radamel Falcao one word comes to mind – goals. Lots of goals, scored with his head and both feet. He is one of the most complete strikers in the game today.
Here’s a comparison of Falcao’s time in Europe compared to some of the other well-known strikers in Europe…
Falcao for Porto and Atletico (competitive matches): 145 appearances, 11,763 minutes played, 117 goals, 25 assists. A goal every 101 minutes.
Edinson Cavani for Palermo and Napoli (competitive matches matches): 225 appearances, 17,536 minutes played, 116 goals, 29 assists. A goal every 151 minutes.
Fernando Torres at Chelsea (all competitive matches): 83 appearances, 5,427 minutes played, 18 goals, 21 assists. A goal every 302 minutes.
Didier Drogba at Chelsea (all competitive games): 337 appearances, 25,265 minutes played, 155 goals, 85 assists. A goal every 163 minutes.
As you can see, Falcao is clearly scoring goals at an unreal rate far above his direct competition in the transfer market (Cavani, although he has been more prolific for Napoli than Palermo) and legendary strikers (Drogba). At the current rate Torres is scoring for Chelsea he would need to log approximately another 30,000 minutes at Chelsea to reach Falcao’s current goal total of 117. That’s roughly 5,000 more minutes than Didier Drogba played during his entire career at Chelsea.
Why would Atletico Madrid want to sell him?
I have never been a person to propagate a lot of transfer speculation – I’m a facts and stats guy. But when the line blurs it makes reaching conclusions easier.
Last season for Atletico, Falcao was unstoppable in the Europa League, having scored 12 goals in 15 appearances and ultimately leading the Spanish club to the Europa League title. This wasn’t a big deal though for the Colombian, nicknamed El Tigre (the Tiger), as all he did the previous season with Porto was score 17 goals in 14 Europa League games to break Jurgen Klinsmann’s scoring record in a European league (15 goals).
What am I getting at? With arguably the most successful player in the history of the Europa League on his roster, Atletico manager Diego Simeone has omitted Falcao from all four Europa League matches Atletico has played in this season. While some Atletico fans are adamant Simeone is resting key players such as Falcao and Arda Turan (another transfer target who has been omitted from every Europa League match), key players such as Miranda and Francisco Juanfran have appeared in the competition. When asked about these decisions, Simeone responded rather defensively, saying: “I am the coach – I do not have to explain my decisions. I do what I have to so we are competitive in three competitions.”
With Atletico having serious debt concerns, including debts of over €100 million to the Spanish treasury who is already struggling in a weak Eurozone economy, it’s hard for me to believe an asset such as Falcao is purposely rested when playing him in a Europa League match would significantly reduce his value on the January transfer market.
Why does not playing Falcao in the Europa League increase his value?
Easy question, but not really. Looking at the UEFA Regulations regarding January squad registrations you will find the following rules…
17.17 – For all matches from the start of the first knockout round, a club may register a maximum of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the current competition. Such registration must be completed by February 1. This deadline cannot be extended.
17.18 – One player from the above quota of three who has played UEFA club competition matches for another competing club in the current season may exceptionally be registered, provided that player has not been fielded:
– in the same competition for another club
– for another club that is currently in the same competition.
To explain further, this means if a club like PSG makes it into the knock-out stage of the Champions League they could register 3 new players for this stage which were not a part of their group stage squad. Of these players, only ONE could have played in a European competition earlier in the season.
Hypothetically speaking, say PSG are offered both Wesley Sneijder from Inter and Falcao this winter. Because Sneijder has already played in the Europa League, he would need the one exception spot offered by UEFA to play for PSG in the Champions League. If Falcao has not played for Atletico in the Europa League, the club could sign both players and add them to their Champions League squad (along with Lucas Moura in the final spot), but if Falcao did play in the Europa League then PSG would need to choose between Falcao and Sneijder for their squad. Thus if Falcao does not play in the Europa League, more teams will be interested in his services which will only drive up the price of his transfer fee.
In short, there are multiple reasons why Radamel Falcao could be sold in the summer that actually make sense. Falcao’s goal rate is currently so amazing in Europe it will likely get worse over time, meaning Atletico should sell now to get the most money for him and reduce their debts (thus reducing their loan interest as well). Couple this with Falcao still being on the market without requiring a special UEFA exception to play in the Champions League and it only compounds the appeal to clubs who will be tempted by his goal scoring efforts. Whether it’s PSG, Chelsea, or another club, we can be sure the Falcao speculation won’t be letting up anytime soon.