Tracking Tottenham Prospect Iago Falque's Progress on Loan at Rayo Vallecano

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentNovember 5, 2013

THESSALONIKI, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 15: Pablo Garcia (L) and his team mate Diego Arias of PAOK defend as Iago Falque of Tottenham attacks during the UEFA Europa League group A match between PAOK FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Toumpa Stadium on September 15, 2011 in Thessaloniki, Greece.  (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur's 23-year-old left-wing prospect Iago Falque, on loan at La Liga club Rayo Vallecano, failed to outdo ex-teammate Gareth Bale in a 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid.

Bale created goals for Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Falque was left wondering what might have been. 

If only Lass' cross didn't take a deflection of an offside Jonathan Viera, Falque would have scored against Real Madrid, the club he turned down at 10 years of age to join Barcelona's academy.

What if Falque didn't sign for Juventus and then Spurs?  

"My path was blocked by Bale," said Falque when asked why he was not a starter at Tottenham, via Isaac Suarez at Marca. "It was tough to get any game time with such a great player standing in my way."

Falque is fortunate his manager, Paco Jemez, ardently believes in him. 

Five minutes into Falque's first league game for Rayo against Levante, he tore a thigh muscle and was out for 37 days. 

In his first game back from injury, he started in the 1-0 win over Real Sociedad, which shows how much faith Paco has in Falque.

Fittingly, the way Falque performs for Rayo mirrors how Paco coaches—style over substance. 

While Falque is a technically sound player, he has been unproductive:

  • He's yet to score or create a goal in 341 minutes of La Liga play. 
  • He misplaced 19 of 22 crosses. 
  • He averages 0.5 dribbles per league game; Andros Townsend averages 5.7 DPLG for Spurs.

Under Paco, Rayo play a meticulous possession-based brand of football, enabling the club to claim moral victories such as controlling 54 percent of possession against Barcelona and making 134 more passes against Real Madrid. 

Rayo were beaten on both occasions, and it's been a regular theme throughout the season for Paco, as his men control the game but continue conceding goals (Rayo have let in 30 goals in 12 games, the worst defensive record in La Liga) while not converting goalscoring chances (they have only scored 10 times in 12 games, tied for second-worst in the league).

One tactical adjustment Paco should consider is switching the left-footed Falque from the left wing to the right, while playing explosive right-winger Lass in the Cristiano Ronaldo role on the left. 

Early in the season, when Falque was playing as an overage player in the Spurs U-21 team, he scored twice as an inverted right-winger in the 4-2 win over the Chelsea U-21 team.

Look at his take-ons against Almeria, as he was 2-for-2 cutting in from the right, whereas he was 0-for-1 from the left: 

Last season, when Townsend was on loan at Queens Park Rangers, the left-footer was given an extended run on the right by Harry Redknapp.

"He played out on the left all the time," Redknapp told West London Sport. "I've stuck him out on the right wing. He comes inside on his left foot, get shots in and I think it's a switch that suits him well."

Townsend went on to set the record for most dribbles in a Premier League game during his short but exhilarating stint with QPR.

It gave him the confidence he needed at the time to force his way into the Spurs' starting XI upon returning from his loan spell. 

This is why Townsend is keeping club-record signing Erik Lamela on the bench. 

Switching to the right wing may not only give Falque a renewed sense of purpose but could also save Paco from the sack. 



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Twitter: @allanjiangLIVE


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