Falcao aiming to secure historic Emirates victory

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

emirates stadium

The current economic climate has left a notable impact on British football with clubs curtailing their spending as they endeavour to navigate their way through these grim financial times.

Never, therefore, has so much emphasis been placed on the importance of astute signings as managers to decline to risk the entirety of their reduced budgets on one potential flop. An expensive failure is a weapon to be used by the media and fans against a manager.

Liverpool’s signing of Alberto Aquiliani has already attracted much derision, some of it warranted, some of it undeserved. Nevertheless it meant Rafael Benitez splashed out a large portion of his summer transfer kitty on one injured midfielder.

The persistent niggles hampering the development of Fernando Torres have highlighted the need for a back-up striker to cover for the Spaniard.

With the monetary woes of Liverpool’s American owners, it is unlikely Benitez shall see such funds this summer — that is, of course, should he make it past this season. However despite the inflated market there are still some basement bargains to be found.

Radamel Falcao is one such case. The Porto striker will be looking to inflict more misery on Arsenal tonight at the Emirates. It is his controversial goal at the Estádio do Dragão a fortnight ago which currently separates the two teams.

And there is a remarkable story behind the blossoming career of the Columbian.

He arrived on Portuguese shores just this season but has already caused a stir in the Liga Sagres.

Nicknamed ‘El Tigre’, the 24-year-old was unearthed by River Plate. The Argentine club discovered Falcao when he was playing for the Columbian under-17 team.

Before signing a professional contract with Los Millonarios, he had begun to study Journalism at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires.  However his writing career was soon sidelined as he made his debut for River in early 2005.

After scoring on seven occasions he succumbed to a knee injury, which would gradually worsen and force him to miss 12 months of football. It was a long road to recovery and initially he struggled to rediscover his goal scoring form.

Once he overcame the initial rehabilitation process and regained full fitness he became an instrumental member of the side. In 2007-08, he helped guide River to top of the Argentine Clausura as he finished top scorer in the division with an impressive 19 goals.

It inevitably attracted interest from Europe, but Falcao remained for with River for one further season. It was a miserable season for the club in which the Columbian international was one of the only consistent performers.

Thus it came as little surprise to see the 24-year-old seal a move to Europe in the summer of 2009. Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were all rumoured to be interested.

Yet it was the Portuguese outfit who eventually snapped up the highly rated player for the reasonable sum of £4 million. With the benefit of hindsight, it is a price that would now appear to be of extraordinary value.

Falcao has proved an instant hit in the Portuguese Liga with 23 goals in just 29 appearances.

So with Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and William Gallas all absent from the Gunners’ squad, Porto are presented with a real chance to finally claim an elusive victory on English soil.

When Falcao spoke to the media yesterday, he remarked: “We are conscious of the team we have and of the capabilities of our squad and we have a strong desire and conviction that we can go through to the next round.”

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