Five reasons why Radamel Falcao will flourish or flop at Chelsea
On the same day champions Chelsea completed the loan signing of Radamel Falcao, their Premier League title odds with Coral lengthened slightly from 6/4 to 8/5.
To the casual observer, this might look like a vote of no confidence from the bookies in Jose Mourinho’s latest acquisition. In fact, it has little to do with former Manchester United flop Falcao and more reflects UEFA lifting Financial Fair Play sanctions on Man City, who have shortened slightly from 5/2 to 12/5.
With Didier Drogba leaving Stamford Bridge for a second time and last term’s leading marksman Diego Costa having some fitness struggles during the second half of the season, the Blues needed to secure another striker regardless.
The big question is this; will Falcao flourish or flop at Chelsea? It could go either way, and here are five reasons supporting one or other of those outcomes
Colombian connection and Atleti expats
Starting on a positive note, there are several familiar faces awaiting Falcao when he arrives for pre-season with the west London outfit. Compatriot Juan Cuadrado was a winter window buy from Fiorentina for Chelsea and may yet remain at the Bridge, despite a lukewarm start to his career there.
As well as an international teammate to link up with, Falcao has former friends from Atletico Madrid too. These are the aforementioned Costa, custodian Thibaut Courtois and left back Filipe Luis all on the Blues’ books. Surrounding himself with those who have brought the best out of him in the past is a sign he should flourish.
Although Falcao often kept Costa out of the Atleti starting XI, it’s highly unlikely he will do so now, however. Comparing their returns from last term, it’s no contest.
Costa struck 20 times in 26 Premier League appearances, but Falcao managed just four goals in as many outings. The former’s troublesome hamstring notwithstanding, Mourinho will always pick a proven performer leaving the latter’s game time limited.
If Falcao is to truly return to full fitness, then not only does he need a full pre-season under his belt, but regular football with the Blues. Quarter hour cameos, like Loic Remy often got when Costa was rampant, will only make it more difficult for the Colombian to shake off that flop tag.
The pressure is off
His spell at Old Trafford will have reduced fans’ expectations of Falcao to the point where the burden falls on others. Chelsea’s star man is Eden Hazard, as the Belgian sensation has been player of the season in both of the last two terms.
Falcao can really benefit from being under the Blues’ radar, slowly rebuilding his confidence and sharpening those once lethal instincts back to his best. Setting targets is always a divisive thing, but if he can double his tally from last term then that would be a step in the right direction.
Chelsea’s checkered record with strikers
Centre forwards have been a mixed bag at the Bridge during the Roman Abramovich era. Didier Drogba and Costa to date have been resounding successes, but what of Adrian Mutu, Mateja Kezman, Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres?
There are influential opinions in football already formulated that say Falcao, likely benched behind Costa, will simply become the latest in a long line of Blues flops.
“If I can help Falcao reach his level again, I will do it,” said Chelsea’s coach prior to landing him on loan. “It hurts me that people in England think that the real Falcao is the one we saw at Manchester United.”
Seeing such a desire from ‘the Special One’ to assist this previously predatory poacher is admirable. Mourinho will make sure fans and punters see ‘the real Falcao’ if we can, and there is plenty in Chelsea ranks to ensure he gets service.
Cesc Fabregas is a proven Premier League chance creator, and the Atletico contingent outlined above, plus compatriot Cuadrado and Hazard, can all combine to put chances on a plate for him. With so much to offer from the supporting cast, the Blues are intriguing 8/1 Champions League chances.