If Falcao is playing for a move to one of European football’s top clubs in the transfer window, the Atletico Madrid striker is timing his run perfectly. He shoots, he scores.
On Sunday night the Colombian striker had five shots and scored five times during the 6-0 demolition of Deportivo La Coruna. Impressive stuff. It was an outstanding night’s work for Falcao, one of the few top class strikers who will be available, provided his £46m release clause is met, in January. He has a remarkable ratio in front of goal, one of the world’s lethal finishers after refining his skills with River Plate, Porto and, since the beginning of last season, with Atletico.
Falcao shoots on sight, usually with devastating consequences as he prepares for life beyond the team sitting proudly in second place in La Liga. He is responsible for 45.7 per cent of Atletico’s goals in La Liga this season, slightly less than Lionel Messi’s record at Barcelona (46 per cent) and ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid (35 per cent). As Chelsea continue their search for a striker to provide support – and to possibly replace Torres in the long-term – these are impressive figures.
Gonzalo Higuain, for example, is another target for Chelsea but his seven goals in La Liga represent just 19 per cent of Real Madrid’s goals. The emerging talent of Bayer Leverkusen’s forward Andre Schürrle is also another consideration for Chelsea, but he has only scored three times in 16 appearances in the Bundesliga. At 22, Schürrle could be part of the future, but the responsibility for goalscoring at the BayArena is with Stefan Kiessling.
Torres, who scored twice at Sunderland during Chelsea’s 3-1 victory at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, now has six in the Premier League (21 per cent).
There is an argument, particularly at Real Madrid, that the responsibility for scoring goals is shared around the top talent. Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Higuain are all formidable in front of goal, but Falcao takes sole responsibility for Diego Simeone’s team. Against Athletic Bilbao earlier in the season, when he scored his first hat-trick of the campaign, he did so from 9 shots, leaving him with an impressive 33% conversion rate in that game. A few days later, in the Super Cup in Monaco, he seduced Roman Abramovich with another treble against Chelsea.
Falcao has a remarkable conversion rate overall this season, scoring 16 times from just 52 chances in front of goal. His record is frightening. Against Rayo Vallecano he had three shots and scored once; five shots, one goal against Valladolid; against Betis, when he scored twice, he had three shots; against Malaga he had three shots and scored once; at Real Sociedad he had three shots and scored once; three shots and one goal against Osasuna; three shots and one goal against Sevilla before last night’s incredible performance.
He is not interested in assists, with just one so far this season. Instead Falcao is all about goals, pure and simple. The Atletico striker is second in the hunt for the Pichichi, behind the great man Lionel Messi as he pulls away following his double at Betis last night. Falcao may not be around to see it through as the battle to keep him at the Estadio Vicente Calderon is about to begin.
He is top of Chelsea’s hit list but there are reservations about signing another big name forward. There is a fear that the forward could tail off under pressure at Chelsea and fall to the same fate as Hernan Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres. With their enormous transfer fees, none of them have ever been considered a success at Stamford Bridge.
Crespo was one of the leading strikers in world football when he arrived at Chelsea from Inter Milan for £16.8m in 2003. He scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League before he returned to San Siro on loan and no-one has ever considered it to be a success. Shevchenko couldn’t repeat his goalscoring form when he arrived at Chelsea from AC Milan in 2006, scoring just nine times in 48 league appearances during his disjointed spell at Chelsea.
Torres, despite four goals in five games since Rafa Benitez arrived as Chelsea’s interim manager, has been another expensive mistake. The Spain striker has scored just 13 goals in 62 appearances in the league, although there have been signs of improvement under Benitez. That has not prevented Chelsea looking at the alternatives, though, and the move for Falcao in January depends on a number of factors in the coming weeks.
Much will depend on the form of Torres, but strikers notoriously suffer at Stamford Bridge and that is one of the major considerations for the European champions. It is a common complaint, but Falcao shows little fear.