Falcao finds his bite after lost years in England
Published 22/11/2016 | 02:30
It has taken three years, two loans and a colossal investment of money, but Monaco are starting to see the best of Radamel Falcao.
The Colombian striker looked like he was finished in his two loan seasons at Manchester United and Chelsea, desperately far away from the striker who terrorised Europe at Porto and Atletico Madrid.
This is the striker who Tottenham Hotspur will face tonight at the Stade Louis II, the man who can effectively knock them out of the Champions League.
That would have sounded unlikely in the extreme during his two poor years in England, but this is a new Falcao now.
He has scored nine goals already this season for Monaco and looks certain to record his best season since he moved to Ligue 1 back in the summer of 2013, when Monaco tried to redraw the world of European football with Dmitry Rybolovlev's billions.
The Falcao of this season, though, is not the same player who looked like the best No 9 in the world after arriving in Europe from River Plate.
That explosive power is gone, and he cannot run in behind or terrify centre-backs like he used to. Years of intense work, and that agonising knee injury suffered in a French cup game in January 2014, have put paid to that.
This is a different Falcao, a player known in France as 'un renard des surfaces' or, as we might put it, 'a fox in the box'.
The speed has gone but the skill and nous remains the same, and so Falcao has reinvented himself as a penalty-box poacher. That is why Leonardo Jardim has disposed of his 4-2-3-1 system to pair Falcao up front with Valere Germain.
The French striker spent last season on loan at Nice but now he is Falcao's crucial foil, doing the hard running that allows Falcao to be a constant threat in the box
Falcao could easily have left Monaco last summer, and had offers from China that would have improved his already very generous salary.
But he decided to stay, and took a pay cut from €14m to €7m to do so. He feels a keen sense of responsibility to Monaco, which is why he is still there, now captaining a team full of youngsters who respect him for everything he has achieved in the game.
Independent News Service