It seems that two of the English Premier League’s superclubs—Chelsea and Manchester City—and possibly a couple of other teams are on the verge of a major bidding war for the services of outstanding Atlético Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.
With Fernando Torres having started every game so far in the 2012-13 season as Chelsea’s lone striker in the Blues’ 4-2-3-1 formation, it’s only a matter of time until El Niño starts to wear down. With backup Daniel Sturridge being a big variable, Blues management is reportedly looking for some much-needed depth at the center forward-striker position for the future.
And it seems the primary target for Chelsea and billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich is Falcao, as ESPNFC reports.
On Tuesday, Sky Sports News reported that Los Colchoneros general manager Miguel Ángel Gil Marín has now warmed up to the idea of selling the 26-year-old Colombian over the 2013 summer transfer window to help the cash-strapped La Liga club with its current financial burden.
Atlético allegedly owes an estimated $441 million to Spanish tax authorities, and UEFA has withheld the club’s prize money from winning the Europa League in the 2011-12 season due to the team’s failure to make repayments.
Although losing its prize star—who is presently tied with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the league lead with eight goals—would be pretty devastating for Los Colchoneros, Marín told COPE Radio the club’s potential reluctant sale of Falcao would go a long way toward solving the current precarious financial situation at Vicente Calderón Stadium.
"The €60 million [£48m] for Falcao would solve all the economic problems at Atlético," Marín said in the Tuesday interview. "I can say for sure, though, he will stay with us until the end of the 2012-13 season. Not only will he stay, but so will all the players that the coach wants to stay.
"We will fight to perform a miracle which is what we are doing with what we have available,” Marín continued. "If Atlético do not qualify for the Champions League or cannot afford to meet his wage demands then I do not think Real Madrid could afford him either.
“In Europe there are 50 clubs with more income than we have. If we were to sell Falcao for €60m then that would cover our debts."
Atlético (6-1-0) is currently tied with Barca atop La Liga's table with 19 points. The pressure of making the Champions League with the likes of heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid looming, combined with the country’s current economic crisis, may mean that selling Falcao may be the wisest move, despite the red-and-white-striped heartache it would surely create in the Spanish capital.
Los Colchoneros have yet to play Barca or Real Madrid this season.
Falcao’s massive €60 million (£48.3 million) buyout clause would seem to narrow the cast of European superclubs fighting for his services down to Chelsea, Manchester City and possibly Ligue 1’s Paris Saint-Germain, although others may still be in the running.
Last month, the Daily Mail reported that stories in Falcao’s native South America said Chelsea struck a pre-agreement deal with Atlético for a proposed January move worth more than £48 million for the talented striker who had a hat-trick in Los Colchoneros 4-1 win over the Blues in the UEFA Super Cup in Monaco on August 31.
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Then, just when it seemed the European champions had the inside track to eventually nabbing Falcao—who now has 48 goals in 57 games for Atlético—Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini traveled to Malaga on Sunday to watch Los Colchoneros and the Colombian striker, according to the Daily Mirror.
So the makings of a Blues-Sky Blues bidding war for his services is seemingly in the works, and this story should continue to get very, very interesting.
Falcao—who signed with Atlético for €40 million ($50.7 million) from Porto in the summer of 2011—admitted in the Daily Mirror story that he would indeed like to play in the EPL someday.
“England? One day, I could go. I used to watch the Premier League on TV as a kid,” Falcao said. “Players like Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Zola, and Asprilla at Newcastle. I think I could adapt to England and score goals.”
Where Falcao will eventually be playing a year from now, and whether or not it happens in the winter or summer transfer window, are still big question marks. But whoever lands him will have pulled off quite the coup, no matter what the price.
If Abramovich and the Blues management should find getting Falcao in the near future to address their lack of depth at the striker spot to be too much of an obstacle, efforts to land either Schalke 04’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or Bayer Leverkusen’s André Schürrle from Germany’s Bundesliga may begin again.
SkyBet currently lists Chelsea as the favorites (3/1) to sign Falcao before February 1, with fellow superclubs Manchester City (13/2), Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 10/1) also getting some respect from the oddsmakers.
Whatever transpires, this is a story that we will hearing more than enough about in the coming months. If Atlético rejects all bids in January, we may be talking about all of this again next summer. Who knows how much Falcao may eventually fetch.
But one thing’s for certain: There really is no offseason when it comes to football transfer talk and rumors of star players heading here, there or everywhere.
Just ask Didier Drogba, Hulk or Neymar.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11