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Revealed: The truth behind Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao's fitness woes


Substitutes Radamel Falcao and Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United look on from the bench. Michael Regan/Getty Images

Substitutes Radamel Falcao and Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United look on from the bench. Michael Regan/Getty Images

Substitutes Radamel Falcao and Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United look on from the bench. Michael Regan/Getty Images

Radamel Falcao is undergoing an intensive fitness programme at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground during the international break so that he can finally get himself into peak condition.

The 28-year-old striker was omitted from the Colombia squad for their friendly matches against the United States at Craven Cottage last Friday and Slovenia in Ljubljana this Tuesday and wants to use the time to get himself fit enough to feature regularly for United. The club are confident he can do so.

Crucially there is no chronic problem with Falcao’s left knee - despite claims to the contrary - and no reason why he should not return to his best.

A post-match photograph, released by United and posted by Falcao on Instagram, set the story running. It showed him sitting with his team-mates with an ice pack and towel over the knee where he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in a French Cup tie in January.

It led to suggestions that his long-term fitness was in doubt and that players at United were surprised that he was ‘ice-ing’ the knee, even though having to do so is not unusual.

Falcao then reacted angrily on social media, tweeting: “One fool speculates. A few others lacking objectivity respond and millions believe lies. It is disastrous what a few fools can do.”

He is not the only one who is angry. The eminent Portuguese surgeon who carried out the operation on his knee, Jose Carlos Noronha, is believed to be annoyed that his statements claiming Falcao had made a full recovery are now being called into question.

What appears to have happened is this: Falcao underwent his operation and worked incredibly hard on his rehab to try and make it to the World Cup. He was included in Colombia’s 30-strong training squad but did not quite make the cut because it was decided he was not fully ready.

Falcao then had a break - and naturally slackened his fitness regime, partly probably through disappointment - and subsequently fell foul of the uncertainty at his then club, Monaco, when it was clear they were trying to move him on and he would not feature.

It affected his pre-season preparations, meaning he did not get the right amount of conditioning work, before he then secured his season-long loan to United.

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There was also, inevitably, immediate pressure for him to play at United and, again, he may not have been in peak condition. Manager Louis Van Gaal works his players hard and Falcao, naturally, was keen to impress.

Subsequently he has struggled for fitness and collected other injuries as a result, including the calf strain that has ruled him out of United’s last three matches.

But United are not concerned about Falcao’s knee. The joint is not in perfect shape but that, again, is regarded as a result of his overall lack of match fitness and not something more serious.

This current international break, it is hoped, will give his club and the player time to finally put things right. Whether United eventually take up the option to sign Falcao permanently at the end of this season remains to be seen. But if they do not it will not be because of his knee.

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