Realistic 2013-14 Season Goals for Radamel Falcao at Monaco
Having now been officially unveiled as a Monaco player, Radamel Falcao made a goalscoring start to his career with the principality outfit with a second-half strike against Fortuna Dusseldorf in a 3-2 defeat last weekend.
With the Colombian finally linking up with the Principality outfit, attention now turns to what he will target for the coming season.
After signing the prolific 27-year-old, Monaco strengthened considerably.
So what should we expect of Falcao in his first season at Monaco and, more importantly, what should he expect from himself?
Domestic Cup Success
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From the start of the season, the pressure will be on Les Monegasques to be challenging at the top of Ligue 1 and in all of the domestic cups because of a lack of European football.
PSG won the title by 12 points last season; Claudio Ranieri’s side will be expected to not allow that to happen again.
However, the capital club were disappointing in both the Coupe de la Ligue and the Coupe de France.
ASM will have targeted instant domestic success as a way of outdoing PSG’s marginal debut season achievements (a second-placed finish in Ligue 1).
An immediate cup triumph to add to Monaco’s already well-decorated trophy cabinet would emphasise the difference in pedigree between the two sides that has often been overlooked so far.
As seven-time league champions, five-time Coupe de France and one-time Coupe de la Ligue winners, Monaco’s roll of honour competes well with PSG’s eight Coupe de France and three Coupe de la Ligue victories (all since 1970, it should be noted).
However, Monaco’s seven league wins compared to PSG’s three gives them the edge, for now, in terms of history.
Falcao and his new side will be expected to underline that point this season.
Top Scorer in Ligue 1
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed last year that once you adapt to Ligue 1, you can really shine.
The Swedish international enjoyed the most productive season of his career to date, netting 30 goals, over 50 perccent of PSG’s total number for the season, per Ligue1.com.
Given that Falcao is Monaco’s Ibrahimovic-esque signing, he will be expected to equal or better the 31-year-old’s emphatic feat.
No easy task in a surprisingly competitive league.
Ibra has set the bar high for any big-name striker now coming to Ligue 1.
That is possibly one of the many reasons behind a suggested departure after only one season in France, according to ESPN FC.
Monaco will be playing a dangerous game by demanding that Falcao betters that 30-goal total.
Instead, a 20-goal haul or higher will be a successful first season in France for the Colombian in a team that, despite its many riches, will take time to adapt to French football.
Player of the Year
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Ibrahimovic also won France’s player of the year award last season.
This is something that Falcao should be targeting so that, once again, he and Monaco do not fall behind PSG and the talismanic Swede or Edinson Cavani in the comparison stakes.
The Colombian will be as key to the Principality outfit as Ibrahimovic or Cavani will be to the current French champions.
However, despite a number of top-class talents, PSG’s support cast for the potential Swedish-Uruguayan pair is of better overall quality than Les Monegasques’ at present.
Champions League Qualification
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Despite it taking the side from the capital two full seasons under new ownership to win a first Ligue 1 title since 1994, Monaco will expect to challenge immediately.
Winning the league in their first season back in the top-flight would be an over-ambitious aim perhaps, though not impossible.
Monaco are the biggest beneficiaries of PSG’s recent investment to date, following the path that Les Parisiens have trodden over the past two years and consequently being able to immediately flex their financial muscles.
Had last season’s Ligue 2 champions been the first to receive such lavish investment, they would certainly not have been able to attract such quality the first time round.
Thanks to PSG’s established presence in the transfer market contributing towards Ligue 1’s growing status, Monaco became a more credible option for the likes of Falcao, Rodriguez and Moutinho immediately.
Because of that and their experience in the Champions League, they will be expected to qualify at the first time of asking for Europe’s premier competition.
Anything less will cue a circus similar to PSG regarding disillusioned big-name stars wanting out.
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That said, it is not impossible for Monaco to challenge for the title straight off the bat.
In their current side, one that sporting director Vadim Vasilyev has now effectively branded complete, there is a wealth of quality.
The Russian stated that there will be no further business this summer save for a “very interesting opportunity," according to L’Equipe (h/t bbc.co.uk).
Should the key trio of Falcao, Rodriguez and Moutinho hit the ground running, a title shot is not unrealistic when considering the current problems dogging preseason favourites PSG (via my own ESPN FC work).
But so much will depend on that adaptation to a league in which every match against Monaco, like it is with last season’s champions PSG, is treated like a cup final.
Let that battle commence.