Following the anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained by AS Monaco’s Radamel Falcao in Wednesday’s 3-0 Coupe de France win over Chasselay Monts d’Or Azergues, Claudio Ranieri’s side face an anxious wait to discover the true extent of the injury.
However, the initial diagnosis is not good and according to ESPN FC, the Colombian has been told by doctor Jose Carlos Noronha that he can expect to be out of action for six months.
Surgery is also required and Monaco have officially confirmed that it will take place in the next few days.
Falcao, as it stands, will not only miss the remainder of the Ligue 1 season, but also the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer.
El Tigre scored Les Monegasques’ opener at Lyon’s Stade Gerland, the venue used for the match in place of Chasselay’s limited home ground.
However, a clash with defender Soner Ertek five minutes before halftime left the South American down clutching his left knee and in need of the stretcher to leave the field.
Considering his recent poor form after returning from a month out with a thigh problem, the 27-year-old has had to endure a nightmare start to life in the principality.
What does Falcao’s potentially season-ending injury mean for his club Monaco, title rivals and current league leaders Paris Saint-Germain, as well as Ligue 1 as a whole?
This injury deprives Monaco of their star man, at least in the short term.
Ranieri was livid with the refereeing in the clash with Chasselay and felt that it was a contributing factor toward the incident, according to Ligue1.com.
"(I)f Falcao has something serious, it is the referee's fault," Ranieri said. "Everyone wants to play like in England and let the game go. It's not possible here. The referee must see when there is a foul and blow his whistle."
Assuming that the injury is not as bad as first feared, resulting in six to 12 months out of the lineup, the principality outfit will still be without him for a considerable length of time.
Before Christmas, the Colombian missed four weeks with his mysterious thigh injury, as reported by ESPN FC, but a layoff of similar length would be seen as a blessing for the title challengers this time.
Monaco will almost certainly need to think about their options ahead of the remainder of the season, with Lacina Traore set to join English Premier League side Everton on loan (h/t ESPN FC) and the January transfer window still open.
The Ivorian international’s move is now shrouded in doubt despite receiving a work permit that was required to finalise the switch, as it would have been Falcao keeping him out of the starting XI.
The Colombian’s absence takes away the most prolific presence in a Monegasque side struggling to reach their potential this season.
Without him, their team chemistry will also be affected, as they face a long wait for their key man to return and finally settle down after a tough bedding in process this campaign.
In the long-term though, the injury could be Monaco's best chance of keeping the player.
From a PSG perspective, the injury sees their title rivals significantly weakened and moves Laurent Blanc’s men one step closer to winning Le Championnat.
Even with Falcao in their team, Monaco have struggled to fully assert their authority regularly.
PSG, on the other hand, have shown no mercy and currently lead by five points following a devastating 5-0 home win over FC Nantes.
Their recent Coupe de France exit to Montpellier HSC allows them to focus more on their title defence, making Monaco’s job without Falcao even more difficult.
Perhaps the biggest blow of all comes to Ligue 1 in general.
Monaco have the money to adequately replace Falcao, if Traore is not deemed good enough already, while PSG are romping ahead of Ranieri’s side even with El Tigre playing regularly.
Les Monegasques are quickly learning that their early season title hopes were a little too ambitious and that success with this current side is going to take another season or two at least.
However, Falcao’s absence will make a team already devoid of any substantial regular fanbase even less attractive to watch. The lure for foreign football fans to watch Ligue 1 will also be diminished somewhat while the prolific striker is out of action.
PSG will continue to attract attention, but the principality side will struggle to attract the same level of interest that they did at the start of the season.
That intrigue was already starting to wane thanks to Falcao’s loss of form pre-injury, but his absence for the remainder of the season could ensure a complete loss of interest for the time being.
Not only have Monaco’s Ligue 1 title aspirations been hit by this news, but Colombia and Falcao’s World Cup hopes have also been dented.
The player has expressed his hope that he might still make the finals, according to ESPN FC, but he also admitted that his "heart is broken" following the news.
Perhaps his participation at this summer’s tournament was not yet in doubt, despite his poor form, but it could have been given time and his continued malaise.
However, if Colombia are to get El Tigre back in time for their trip to Brazil this summer, not only will they be nursing a recovering player back to full fitness, but he will also be low on confidence following his poor form pre-injury.
Will he be worth taking to Brazil at all if only half fit or in worse condition?
Also, what happens with Traore at Monaco? His loan move to Everton is almost certain to not happen, as Monaco cannot afford to lose two strikers in the space of a few days.
With only Emmanuel Riviere, Anthony Martial and Valere Germain as backup, Ranieri might also be tempted to dip into the transfer market once again.
The Italian must ensure that he has the adequate resources to keep his side competitive in Falcao’s absence, however long it is for. Otherwise, they risk falling away in the second half of the season and failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
We may only discover the true cost of the Monaco man’s injury come the end of the Ligue 1 season.
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