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Fearless Falcao: The story behind El Tigre’s Ballon d’Or nomination

Falcao Ballon

The annual Ballon d’Or nominations have been named and as ever, are hotly debated. One player whose nomination was never in doubt was the now Monaco striker, Radamel Falcao. Falcao started the year firing in the goals for Atletico Madrid but moved to the principality for a hefty reported fee of £53 million. In 2013, questions regarding his real age were quashed rapidly, whilst talk of Real Madrid interest never seemed to go away but his quality at club and international level was never questioned. Here is why Radamel Falcao was nominated for the most prestigious individual award in football.

Honours this year

Falcao was a major part of Atletico Madrid’s success story last season as they picked up the Copa Del Rey following a victory over arch rivals Real in the final. He managed 28 goals in the league for Atletico last season and has begun his spell in France in a similar vein of form.

On the international stage, Falcao fired Colombia to the World Cup, helping them attain a seeding for the Group Stage draw in the process. He scored four times in 2013 for Colombia, including two crucial goals in the fight-back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 against Chile, the game in which they secured definite qualification.

Key stats

What makes Falcao such a fantastic striker is his ability to shoot accurately and finish the majority of the chances he gets to score. Last season, he managed to get 55% of his 123 shots on target, converting 28% of those shots into goals and has followed that up this time around with a 60% shot accuracy at Monaco in Ligue 1. He has upped his conversion rate to 32% too so far this season.

He is the definition of clinical and there are not many strikers who can boast such impressive accuracy having attempted this amount of shots. His ability to convert his chances into goals is what separates the Colombian from your average run-of-the-mill striker. Notice in the graphic below how bunched his shots on target are, Falcao can find the bottom corner of the net on a regular basis.

Does he deserve his nomination?

Falcao has gone along at a rate of almost a goal a game in 2013 and is capable with both feet and can head the ball tremendously well despite standing at just 5ft 10. It’s a testament to his ability that he is considered to be one of the best strikers in the world, especially when you consider the performances of his contemporaries. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robin Van Persie, Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani to name a few.

Falcao’s 28 goals in La Liga represent a phenomenal return and his goal-scoring exploits enabled Atletico to stay with Barcelona and Real Madrid for most of the campaign. Add this to his accomplishments with Colombia, combined with the continuation of his fine goal-scoring record under the pressure of a mega-money transfer, at a new club, in new surroundings, and you have yourself a deserved Ballon d’Or nominee.

Can he win it?

No. Not a chance. When the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich’s treble winners are around, there is no chance that Falcao can force his way into the reckoning. The winner will likely be one of those two superstars or Bayern’s Franck Ribery, who could all have a strong case put forward for them to be named the best player in the world in 2013. The image below just shows what he had to compete with in La Liga alone, making it almost impossible for him to win. Despite two incredible years at Atletico Madrid, where he played as well as any other centre-forward possibly could, he was still left standing in the shadows of Messrs Messi and Ronaldo.

The best Falcao can hope for is to trump Ibrahimovic, Cavani and Van Persie as the best out-and-out striker in the final voting. Although possible, you get the feeling Ibrahimovic will trump him to that accolade but it does not mean his achievements this year should not go unnoticed. After all, he is a truly phenomenal striker.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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