KEIR RADNEDGE in Bucharest: Radamel Falcao, in all probability, will not be scoring his magnificent goals for Atletico de Madrid next season. No club which owes the taxman E115m can afford to reject the lucrative offers being prepared by much-less-indebted giants of Italy’s Serie A and England’s Premier League.
Falcao, 12-goal top scorer in Atletico’s victorious Europa League campaign and two-goal match-winner against Bilbao here in Bucharest on Wednesday, has all the gifts to do well in either league.
He is strong and powerful with excellent technique and a warrior spirit which means he is running as selflessly as a lone wolfman at the end of a match as he is immediately after kickoff.
The Colombian was also the Europa League’s title-winning top scorer in 2010-11 when he collected a European club record 17 goals including the winner for Porto in the all-Portuguese final against Braga in Dublin.
Not that Atletico’s fans were immediately impressed with their early viewing of Falcao after the Colchoneros paid a club record E40m to join the exodus from Porto last summer. For a while it seemed as if he might be deemed as much of a failure as former coach Andre Villas Boas turned out at Chelsea.
After collecting his man-of-the-match award in Bucharest, Falcao turned up a wry smile at the recollection of his early struggle in the Spanish capital and said: “After I joined Atletico last year some people said it was a mistake. Now I can say that they were the ones who were mistaken.
“We’ve had difficult moments and some ups and downs but we’ve worked hard and we deserved to finish up the season like this.”
Falcao, 26, from Santa Marta in Colombia, and named after the Brazilian midfielder of the 1980s, made his name in Argentina with River Plate and moved to Porto in 2009. He has scored more than 100 goals in three seasons and Europe.
Coach Diego Simeone, an even more recent addition to the Atletico staff since only last December, was diplomatic about Falcao’s future. For one thing, the Spanish season has yet to finish so this was not the time to talk about the inevitable ins and outs summer will bring.
Simeone said: “I know Radamel from when he was very young and we were champions together in Argentina at River Plate. He’s an admirable player. He always wants more and there is no ceiling to his ambition and to what he can achieve.
“Of course I hope he will stay with us but I’ll be happy with whatever he feels to should do because I’m very fond of him.”
One of Falcao’s gifts is that he does not think he knows it all, whatever his achievements. He always has an open ear for advice, from whatever source.
Describing the perfect curling trajectory of the angled left-foot shot which opened the scoring, he said: “The angle was good, my Dad always used to tell me to try to hit the far post and that’s what I tried to do. I think he will be very happy.”
Also very proud of a son who still has a long way to go in the game.
= = = =