There are very few people right now whose form compares to that of Radamel Falcao. In La Liga, it seems that all we hear is Messi, Ronaldo, Messi, Ronaldo, with an occasional Xavi, Benzema, Iniesta or Ozil thrown into the mix.
But after a while, Atletico Madrid, who have been one of the better teams in Spain in recent years, have seemingly found a response to the top-heavy dominance of the two giants. The response comes in the form of a strongly built, 5'10" Colombian, with long black hair, tremendous athletic ability and, of course, a nose for goal.
Falcao played for the River Plate first team between 2005 and 2009, but he moved to Porto three years ago, in a deal worth almost €4 million. In Portugal, he developed his reputation as a tremendous goalscorer as well as a great all-around footballer.
Then in August 2011, Atletico Madrid snapped him up for €40 million, the biggest transfer fee in club history. Since then, El Tigre has fit in surprisingly well in such a short amount of time, as he netted 24 goals last season, third behind Messi and Ronaldo, of course.
But this year is a whole new story.
Atletico Madrid, also called Los Rojiblancos, currently enjoy second place in the league table, behind Barcelona by three points but ahead of Real Madrid by five. Much of that is thanks to Falcao, who has scored 10 goals already in just 12 games, third behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (by seven and two, respectively).
Additionally, Falcao led Atletico Madrid to winning the UEFA Europa League last year as well as the UEFA Super Cup (which is the winner of the Champions League vs. the winner of the Europa League), as he scored all four goals in a demolition of Chelsea.
After an inspiring start to the season, Falcao has been heavily linked away from the Spanish capital. As it always is today in football, as soon as great players from smaller teams start performing, before you know it, they're on a plane heading to a bigger club.
The current factor of money in the sport is bigger than it has ever been, partly thanks to rich owners such as Roman Abramovich, Sheikh Mansour and even PSG's Qatari Sports Investments. As a result, Falcao is linked to both Chelsea and Manchester City according to The Guardian.
For neutral fans, it would be a shame to see Falcao move to a bigger club for a few reasons.
First, let's look at the teams in the Spanish league. People say that one reason holding La Liga back from being the best league in the world is the top-heavy dominance. It seems that it's always a two-horse race between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
To defend that assertion, let's look at the numbers. In the last 10 seasons, one of the two teams has won the league nine times (Valencia's '03-04 championship being the exception), and in the last 20, only four times the league has been won by a team who wasn't Barcelona or Real Madrid. Plus, those two clubs have accounted for 53 out of the 81 Spanish championships in history.
With Falcao as the driving force for Atletico Madrid, it's fair to say that they may not be the third wheel of La Liga; Diego Simeone's men could continue to fare well how they are right now. With this in mind, the prospect of Atletico finishing higher than either of the other two superpowers is feasible, not just an unrealistic dream which Spanish underdog supporters cling on to.
Another reason to root against a Falcao transfer has to do with La Liga, but not team-wise, just in terms of players.
Having Ronaldo and Messi causing us to drop our jaws week in, week out is a great situation, but at some point, change is interesting. This isn't discrediting the other wonderful players in La Liga, but none of them can score quite like the Colombian, and it's good when other people are part of the limelight.
As an example of my point, let's take a look at the final scoring statistics for last La Liga season. Messi ended the season with 50 goals. Insane? Yes. Ronaldo netted 46 by the end. Insane? Again, yes. Falcao's final tally read 24 goals. Maybe not insane, but that's great.
But next to Messi and Ronaldo's combined 96 goals, 24 seems measly. This year, Falcao is on track to keep up with Ronaldo, at least (Messi is another story), and if he comes within a few goals of these two, it will be a nice variation to have three goal-scoring machines.
Thirdly, moving away from La Liga, it will have a big impact on the Premier League as well, if he goes to either Chelsea or Manchester City. His presence in England would do the same thing as his absence in Spain: increase top-heavy dominance.
The Citizens currently sit atop the Premiership table, with Chelsea in third place. We're still talking really good teams. Despite City's struggles in Europe, they are still unbeaten in the EPL, while Chelsea, in my opinion, have been the most fiery team thus far, although they are currently going through a rough patch.
Imagine Falcao and Aguero playing alongside one another, David Silva and Yaya Toure feeding them chance after chance. Or picture Falcao up top at Stamford Bridge, with Eden Hazard and Juan Mata providing him with endless assists (while an off-form Fernando Torres sits dejectedly on the bench).
That could prove almost unstoppable! How are smaller teams with less money going to compete with those partnerships? For City and Chelsea supporters, it must be great, but those fans who savor competition and unpredictability won't be pleased by this.
And finally, it is for El Tigre himself. Many recent blockbuster deals in football have turned out to have players who just lose the momentum they had at their previous club. Kaka to Real Madrid, Fernando Torres to Chelsea, Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona, Nicolas Anelka to multiple clubs. The list goes on. But the point is that the level of Falcao's success at Madrid isn't guaranteed elsewhere.
Evidently, many blockbuster deals have turned out to be very, very effective, but there is a chance that a move to England for Falcao will see his form drop off a bit. Of course, it may be the case that Falcao gets better after a transfer, but nothing is 100 percent in a huge deal like this.
For these reasons, neutrals should hope Falcao stays at Atletico Madrid, for the overall quality of both leagues involved.
But even if he does move, we can't really blame the Colombian. After all, we know how much money City and Chelsea are capable of putting on the table for potential major signings, though it's easy to lose sight of his incentives for transferring if one is against it.
For me, the most intriguing thing will be whether Falcao and Atletico Madrid will be able to keep up with the two superpowers, and even break up their stronghold on Spanish football.
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