Radamel Falcao can be revived at Chelsea years after Super Cup peak
Radamel Falcao won't recreate his Monaco magic at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea signing can chip in with important goals
Radamel Falcao underlined his status as Europe’s most-clinical centre-forward with a breathtaking 45-minute hat-trick against Chelsea on 31 August 2012.
The venue was Stade Louis II and Chelsea were looking to cement their status as kings of Europe following their Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena a couple of months earlier.
Falcao, though, had other ideas.
The 29-year-old, who built his reputation at Porto before he devoured La Liga defences with Atletico Madrid, delivered an unforgettable first-half performance for those at the Principality’s stadium. Chelsea fans will clamour to point out John Terry was a noticeable absentee, but there was plenty of experience in Roberto Di Matteo’s back five (Petr Cech, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic).
Falcao dinked his first effort over Petr Cech to break the deadlock before he curled a delightful second past the Czech Republic goalkeeper. Not content with two sublime, clinical finishes, the Colombia international completed a devastating first-half hat-trick with a brilliant counter-attacking goal.
For those, including this writer, at Stade Louis II, it was a mesmerising display of world-class finishing. No surprise, then, that Falcao was soon linked with a big-money move to Chelsea.
Considering his Super Cup heroics, it is a surprise Falcao has taken a three-year detour before he finally completed his touted Stamford Bridge switch on Friday afternoon. It is an even stranger quirk that his Atletico Madrid successor Diego Costa moved to Chelsea a season before the Monaco striker.
Barring a drastic downturn in Costa’s form and a doubtful revival of Falcao’s confidence and form in the coming weeks, the new Blues loan signing will start the season as second-choice if not third-choice striker.
While it is unlikely the Premier League will get to witness Falcao replicate that devastating goal-scoring performance against Chelsea almost three years ago next season despite genius of Jose Mourinho, only a fool would discount the Chelsea manager’s ability to rekindle some decent form from his loan signing.
What about Fernando Torres, cry the sceptics?
Admittedly, Mourinho couldn’t resuscitate the former Liverpool striker’s career following the Portuguese coach’s Chelsea return in June 2013. But Torres’ success in England was built on his pace and power as well as his finishing.
Injuries had curtailed the former two attributes, whilst his diminishing confidence extinguished the former Atletico man’s once unerring ability to score goals.
Falcao is a slightly different case.
He isn’t arriving at Chelsea with the tag of the Premier League’s most expensive signing and his miserable season-long stint at Manchester United means expectations will be low.
Unlike Torres, Falcao’s game isn’t built on pace as a more traditional centre-forward. His finishing was clearly abject under Louis van Gaal, but that is something which should return with confidence. This is where Mourinho will back himself to succeed where Van Gaal failed.
And Falcao will only really be required in the absence of Costa and/or Loic Remy, which means even matching his Premier League tally from last season could be sufficient.
After all, Didier Drogba, the man who Falcao has been signed to replace in the Chelsea squad, scored just five goals in their title-winning campaign.