There is little to no doubt that at this current moment in time Radamel Falcao is the best striker in world football. The Colombian forward, currently plying his trade at Atletico Madrid is dominating the headlines both in Spain and across Europe with continued tales of his exploits.
His career began at River Plate in Argentina where he progressed through the ranks. The 2007/8 season was when he really began to make his mark by scoring 19 goals in 39 games. The following year he followed it up with more goals and at the end of that season moved to Porto for €3.9 million.
It was in Portugal that Falcao really began to earn plaudits worldwide for his goal scoring excellence. During his two seasons for Porto he scored 72 goals in 85 games in all competitions and helped the club to win the UEFA Europa League in 2011. It was clear that the Colombian was destined to play in one of the bigger European leagues and that summer he signed for Athletico.
Over the last five years, there has been a dramatic shift away from what was regarded as the traditional striker. Ever since Lionel Messi was deployed in a ‘false nine’ position, many clubs have attempted to copy this tactic and ensure that their striker is more of a team player than purely a finisher. However, El Tigre is the archetypal old fashioned striker; phenomenal in the air, strong physically and a lethal finisher. When you combine these attributes and place them in someone young and hungry, the result is what everyone has witnessed in the last three or more years.
Before this season commenced, it was thought that Athletico would be fighting for one of the Champions League places; but they are currently joint top of the Primera Division with Barcelona. One, if not the primary reason for this is Falcao’s goals; he has scored 10 goals in eight games in the league. Allied with some wonderful creative talent the club is certainly seeing their expensive outlay being repaid in full. It is unlikely that Athletico will maintain this league position until the end of the season, but if this remarkable goal scoring run continues it is not implausible.
Part of the reason for this remarkable success is the impact that the head coach Diego Simeone has had on his striker. This season he has specifically asked Falcao not to do too much chasing back and pressing; he just wants him to remain in his position and finish of the chances. Although this tactic sounds relatively simple, it is quite unique at the moment with everyone focusing on defending starting from the forward.
Inevitably with all this personal success, the transfer rumour mill is in over drive at the moment with links to Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid amongst others. The fee would be astronomical considering he only signed for his current club two years ago but of all the striking options available at the moment it appears to be the closest to a sure thing you can get.
Whatever happens in the coming months and wherever the Colombian ends up playing he is a must watch for anyone who is yet to witness this thrilling player in action. His goal scoring record is getting better the older he gets and at 26 he is approaching the peak of his powers.
It will be a fascinating few years ahead.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow him on Twitter @hunter67980