It's been two months since Radamel Falcao played football and didn't score. In that time, his 16 goals in 10 games have propelled Atletico Madrid up alongside Barcelona atop the La Liga table and helped Colombia to three vital wins in World Cup qualifying.
For his latest act, Falcao fizzed an emphatic, 90th-minute free kick into the top corner to secure Atletico their seventh straight league victory against Real Sociedad.
The familiar sight of the 26-year-old reeling away in celebration, jazz hands shimmering by his side, followed, and in its wake the latest round of superlatives from the world's media.
Wrote Sid Lowe, for the Guardian:
There may not have been a finisher like him in Spain since Hugo Sánchez, a specialist so clear in his mission, so fine-tuned, so efficient.
Not that many clubs can afford to go after him.
If Falcao does leave Atletico in January, we will be looking at a price in the region of $70 million. That would rank him among the 10 most expensive players in history and shrink the list of potential suitors down to just a handful of clubs.
Real Madrid are another of the game's flamboyant spenders in the equation. Any talk of Falcao landing at the Bernabeu must be tempered by the fierce city rivalry between Madrid and Atletico, but the fact that he shares an agent with Jose Mourinho and Ronaldo at least keeps the possibility alive.
And then there's Paris Saint-Germain, who shopped freely for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura and others this summer and have a seemingly bottomless pit of Qatari money to draw from. The talk is they'll make an offer for Falcao in January.
Here's what Spanish football expert Giullem Balague said of the situation, as per Sky Sports:
There's going to be an offer in the winter from PSG and it will be up to him if he accepts it. He's already got an offer on the table from them which will make him the best-paid player in the world, but he's waiting to see if Chelsea, Man City or Real Madrid are actually going for him as well.
But does a talent like that really further himself in Ligue 1—and by landing at a team in the midst of a French revolution?
I say no. Falcao is said to prefer Spain or England (Daily Telegraph), and a Champions League club in one or the other is the best decision for continuing his development.
Joining Ronaldo at Madrid comes with a certain appeal, obviously, but Falcao will be mindful of how Atletico fans will react and also of the uncertain nature of Mourinho's future at the club (maybe even Ronaldo's). Whichever way you look at it, it's hard to see that deal happening.
If he really thinks this through, and should they be interested (why wouldn't they be?), Falcao's best option is Chelsea.
Some will balk at that, but if you've watched Roberto Di Matteo's team this season, you will have seen signs something truly special is emerging in southwest London.
The team that dragged itself to Champions League glory has been honed and sprinkled with genius, and represents a goldmine of opportunity for a striker. Just imagine the goals Falcao would score supplied by Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Co..
Mata and Hazard have shared 10 assists in Chelsea's eight league games this season. Atletico don't have a player with more than two to his name (stats as per whoscored.com).
Where will Falcao be next season?
The only issue for Di Matteo would be placating both Falcao and Fernando Torres, with Chelsea's current system only having room for one striker.
Seven years ago, it was Torres in same position as Falcao—as Atletico's superstar striker with Europe's finest circling. Could El Nino be squeezed out at Chelsea by a man following in his path, albeit without the stop at Liverpool en route?
One thing's for sure, if Chelsea do sign Falcao in January, anything is possible for Di Matteo's team this season.
Chelsea fans who watched Falcao rip their team to pieces in the European Super Cup know this only too well.