Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao García Zárate (Spanish pronunciation: [raðaˈmel falˈkao]; 10 February 1986) is a Colombian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Süper Lig club Galatasaray and captains the Colombia national team. He is sometimes nicknamed "El Tigre" (Spanish for The Tiger) or "King of the Europa League".[4][5] During his prime, he was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world.[6][7][8]

Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao García.jpg
Falcao in 2019
Personal information
Full name Radamel Falcao García Zárate[1]
Date of birth (1986-02-10) 10 February 1986 (age 34)[2]
Place of birth Santa Marta, Colombia
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)[3]
Playing position(s) Forward
Club information
Current team
Galatasaray
Number 9
Youth career
2001–2005 River Plate
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999–2001 Lanceros Boyacá 8 (1)
2005–2009 River Plate 90 (34)
2009–2011 Porto 51 (41)
2011–2013 Atlético Madrid 68 (52)
2013–2019 Monaco 107 (65)
2014–2015Manchester United (loan) 26 (4)
2015–2016Chelsea (loan) 10 (1)
2019– Galatasaray 22 (15)
National team
2001–2005 Colombia U17 4 (1)
2005–2007 Colombia U20 11 (4)
2007– Colombia 91 (35)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 24 October 2020
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 13 October 2020

Falcao began his professional career in the Colombian Second Division at the age of 13 at Lanceros Boyacá, before moving to the Argentine club River Plate, where he played with their youth academy for a few years and later won the 2007–08 Clausura tournament. In 2009, he joined the Portuguese club Porto, where he won several trophies, including the Europa League and Primeira Liga double in 2011.[9][10] Falcao became their all-time top goalscorer in international club competitions and set the record for most goals (17) in a European campaign. He also became the first Colombian to receive the Portuguese Golden Ball award.[11] In August 2011, Falcao was transferred to Atlético Madrid for a club record €40 million, leading them to Europa League and Super Cup victories in 2012. Falcao finished as top goalscorer for the second straight year and became the first player to win consecutive Europa League titles with two teams.[12][13] He was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2012,[14] and finished in 5th place for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or.

In May 2013, Falcao joined newly promoted Monaco for a club record €60 million; however, an ACL injury ruled him out for several months.[15] Falcao spent the next two seasons on loan at Premier League clubs Manchester United and Chelsea, eventually rejoining Monaco in 2016 and leading them to the Ligue 1 title for the 2016–17 season.

Falcao made his senior debut for Colombia in 2007, and has since earned over 90 caps and scored 35 goals, making him their all-time top scorer. He represented his country at the 2011, 2015 and 2019 Copa América. Falcao missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup through injury, but made his World Cup debut at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

In November 2018, Falcao was honored by the Atletico Madrid fans with a plaque outside the Metropolitano Stadium.[16]

Club careerEdit

Lanceros BoyacáEdit

Falcao made his debut for Lanceros Boyacá in the Colombian Categoría Primera B (second tier) on 28 August 1999, playing the last 20 minutes against Deportivo Pereira at the age of 13 years and 199 days, thus becoming the youngest debutant at that level of Colombian professional football.[17][18] In 2000, Lanceros' coach, Hernán Pacheco, began to consider the 14-year-old more seriously; Falcao played seven matches that year.[19] On 25 July, at the Estadio Olímpico del Sol at Sogamoso, he scored his first and only goal for the club, to seal a 2–0 win against Club El Cóndor that took Lanceros off the bottom of the table.[20] In his two years with the club, he played eight matches and scored once.[19]

River PlateEdit

After training with Millonarios, who did not take up their option to purchase the player,[21] Falcao was sold to River Plate of Argentina in February 2001, for a $500,000 fee.[19][22] He began his River career in the youth team, playing in the eighth division of Argentine football.[22] River's coach, Leonardo Astrada, gave Falcao his professional debut in the 2005 Torneo Clausura, on 6 March 2005, in a game that the club won 3–1 to Instituto de Córdoba.[23][24]

Falcao became a regular in the first team during the 2005 Torneo Apertura. He scored twice in a match for the first time in Argentina, on 2 October in a game against Independiente that finished as a 3–1 win for River.[25] He repeated the feat twice more during the Apertura: against Lanús, his brace contributed to a 4–1 home win,[26] and against San Lorenzo, River won 5–1.[27] This brought his total for the competition to seven from as many games under the management of Reinaldo Merlo, who gave Falcao the trust he needed to establish himself in the team.

In the match against San Lorenzo in November, Falcao injured the ligaments of his right knee and missed the remainder of the Apertura; then, during pre-season training in January 2006, he sustained more serious damage to the same knee, which required surgery and was expected to keep him out for at least six months.[28][29] He returned to the field in September, soon after the start of the 2006 Torneo Apertura, in which he made 12 appearances, mainly as a substitute; he scored just once, to seal a 2–0 win against Rosario Central that took River clear at the top of the table.[30] A few days earlier, he made his debut in CONMEBOL competition, in the last eight of the 2006 Copa Sudamericana against Atlético Paranaense of Brazil. He was replaced at half-time, and the match finished 2–2, so River were eliminated on aggregate, having lost the home leg 1–0.[31]

He was sent off in his only outing in the 2007 Copa Libertadores, against Colo-Colo in February 2007. Domestically, he made little impression on the 2007 Torneo Clausura. He scored in only one of the eight games he played: River's first two goals as they beat Racing Club 4–2 away from home.[32] Falcao scored his first professional hat-trick on 28 September 2007, as River made a historic comeback against Botafogo to progress in the 2007 Sudamericana.[33] The following week, he scored his first goal in a Superclásico, the first of River's goals as they beat Boca Juniors 2–0.[34]

River Plate were reported to have rejected a $15 million offer from Milan for Falcao in early 2008, as well as bids from clubs including Aston Villa and Fluminense. He was a key player as Diego Simeone led River to the 2008 Torneo Clausura championship, his first domestic title, and his performances meant he was linked with moves to a variety of clubs.[35] Nevertheless, he remained with River as they suffered the worst campaign in their history, finishing bottom of the 2008 Torneo Apertura.[36]

In 2009, River Plate had a difficult start: they were eliminated in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores 2009 and won few games at the beginning of the 2009 Torneo Clausura. Falcao retained his eye for goal and was instrumental in Nestor Gorosito's plans, having matured as a striker over the previous two years; he finished as top scorer with 43 goals.

PortoEdit

2009–10 seasonEdit

 
Falcao playing for FC Porto in 2010

Falcao moved to Portugal on 15 July 2009 to join Primeira Liga team Porto on a €3.93 million transfer fee for 60% of his economic rights[37] after Porto sold striker Lisandro López to Olympique Lyon for €24 million.[38] In the transaction, Porto also sold Mario Bolatti for €1.5 million to a third party owner, Natland Financier B.V., in exchange for 35% of the economic rights of Falcao.[39] A week before, Porto rivals Benfica came very close to signing Falcao after making a €4.7 million offer, but the reluctance of the club to pay an additional €700,000 requested by Falcao for awards and delayed salaries dictated the end of negotiations, which prompted Falcao to join Porto a week later.[40][41] He made his debut against Paços de Ferreira on the opening day of the season and scored an important goal to earn the team a draw.[42] He went on to score three goals in as many games, making him one of the few to score four goals in the first four matchdays of the Portuguese league.

On 15 September, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 1–0 away defeat against Chelsea.[43] Two weeks later, on 30 September, he scored his first Champions League goal in a group stage win over Atlético Madrid.[44] On 12 December, Falcao scored a header to defeat rivals Sporting CP in a 1–0 home victory.[45] On 2 February 2010, Falcao scored twice in a 5–2 Taça de Portugal quarter-finals victory against rivals Sporting CP.[46] In the same month, he scored the winning goal in a UEFA Champions League round of 16 2–1 victory over Arsenal, his fourth goal in the tournament, even though Porto were later eliminated from the competition.[47] On 3 April, Falcao scored a brace against Marítimo to lead the scoring charts with 20 goals,[48] although he would eventually finish the season as the second-highest league scorer with 25 goals, behind only Benfica's Óscar Cardozo, who had 26. He scored in his last game of the season, the 2010 Taça de Portugal Final, where Porto won 2–1 against Chaves.[49] Falcao wrapped up the campaign with a career-high 34 goals in all competitions.

2010–11 seasonEdit

Falcao made an impressive start to the 2010–11 season, scoring a goal in the 2010 Portuguese Super Cup 2–0 victory over Benfica.[50] He scored his first two league goals on the second matchday of the season in a 3–0 victory against Beira-Mar on 22 August 2010.[51] He scored his second double for the club in a 5–1 victory over União de Leiria on 25 October.[52] On 7 November, he scored twice (one of them a backheel goal) in a 5–0 victory against the defending champions Benfica.[53]

On 2 December, Falcao scored his first hat-trick for Porto against Rapid Wien during a UEFA Europa League clash, becoming the top goal scorer with seven goals.[54] On 7 April 2011, Falcao scored another hat-trick and provided an assist in the quarter-finals of the Europa League against Russian side Spartak Moscow in a 5–1 victory, bringing his goal tally in the tournament to ten.[55] In the second leg, he scored another goal and provided another assist in another victory with the same scoreline in a 10–3 aggregate thrashing that took Porto to the tournament's semi-final stage.[55]

On 17 April, he scored a double against rivals Sporting CP to help defeat them 3-2.[56] He further added to his position as top scorer in the Europa League by scoring four goals in the semi-final against Villarreal two weeks later, which finished 5–1 for Porto.[57][58] In the Europa League final against domestic rivals Braga, Falcao scored the only goal of the game with a header after a cross from Fredy Guarín, giving the title to Porto.[59] He set a new goalscoring record of 17 goals in 14 games during the Europa League campaign, surpassing Jürgen Klinsmann's previous record of 15 goals.[60] In July 2011, Falcao extended his contract with an added €45 million buy-out clause.[61] Porto paid a commission of €6,585,150 to extend the contract.[62]

Atlético MadridEdit

2011–12 seasonEdit

On 18 August 2011, Porto announced they had agreed a fee with Atlético Madrid for the transfer of Falcao.[63] The transfer fee was €40 million with the fee potentially rising to €50 million based on performance-based clauses, making him the most expensive player in the club's history.[64] Falcao made his Atlético debut on 11 September away to Valencia, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–0 defeat. A week later, on 18 September, Falcao scored his first hat trick for Atlético in a 4–0 win against Racing Santander.[65] On 3 November, Falcao netted a goal in Atlético's 4–0 triumph over Udinese – the goal meant that Falcao had scored 19 goals in his last 18 Europa League games.[66]

 
Falcao celebrates winning the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League with Atlético Madrid

Falcao's second hat-trick in La Liga came on 21 January 2012, when he led his team to a 4–0 victory against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta Stadium. On 16 February, in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32, Falcao scored twice and assisted a goal in an 3–1 away victory against Lazio to progress to the round of 16.[67][68] In the second leg of Atlético's Round of 16 clash against Turkish club Beşiktaş, Falcao scored one goal and provided Eduardo Salvio's goal in a 3–0 victory, advancing 6–1 on aggregate.[69] On 21 March, Falcao netted a second half double to propel his side to a 2–1 victory over Athletic Bilbao and keep Atlético in the race for European places.[70] In both legs of the Europa League quarter-final tie versus Hannover 96, Falcao managed to score a goal for each leg, helping Atlético seal a 4–2 aggregate victory and increasing his goal tally to eight in the competition.[71][72]

Falcao played his first Madrid Derby against Real Madrid on 11 April 2012. He had missed the first match at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium due to injury, and scored Atlético's only goal as his side fell 4–1 due to a hat trick by Cristiano Ronaldo.[73] Four days later, he scored his 30th goal of the season in all competitions against Rayo Vallecano in a crucial 1–0 victory for Atlético.[74] In the first leg of the 2011–12 Europa League semi-finals against Valencia, Falcao scored a double in a 4–2 victory while making Atlético the first team to win ten consecutive matches in a single Europa League season.[75] Falcao added to his Europa League tally in the final against fellow La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, netting Atlético's opening two goals in a 3–0 triumph at the Arena Națională in Bucharest on 9 May 2012.[76][77] In so doing, Falcao not only became the top goal scorer in a Europa league season again, with 12 goals, but became the first player in history to win two consecutive Europa League titles with two different teams.[78][79] Four days after the final, Falcao scored the only goal late into a match against Villarreal to give his team a victory in the last game of the season.[80] After his outstanding debut season with the club, his purchase was called the "best purchase of the 21st century"[81]

2012–13 seasonEdit

Falcao scored two hat-tricks at the start of the 2012–13 season; first in the league game against 2012 Europa League finalists Athletic Bilbao on 27 August 2012,[82] and the second in the 4–1 defeat of Chelsea during the 2012 UEFA Super Cup on 31 August 2012.[83] At the same time, Falcao became the first player in history to score a hat trick in a UEFA Super Cup final in its current format; the original format was two legged before turning into a single legged final format in 1998. On 16 September, Falcao scored what turned out to be the decisive goal from the penalty spot in a 4–3 win over Rayo Vallecano,[84] and did the same a week later in a 2–1 triumph against Real Valladolid, before going off at half-time in order to avoid a possible groin injury.[85] Falcao scored a double in a 4–2 away victory over Real Betis, converting a cross for the first and then a penalty, putting him to the top of the goal scoring charts in La Liga with seven goals.[86] In October 2012, he was nominated for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or, and came in 5th place.[87] He was also in the 2012 FIFPro World XI.

Falcao scored a header early into the game against Málaga, and also forced Málaga defender Weligton to score an own goal, giving Atlético the 2-1 victory in the final minute. He scored once again in an away fixture to Real Sociedad, this time with a rare free-kick which was a last minute winner in the 1-0 victory. That was Falcao's first professional free kick goal. [88] In a match against Sevilla, Falcao scored a penalty and assisted another goal in a 4–0 victory; the strike marked his 50th goal for Atlético.[89] In the 6-0 victory against Deportivo de La Coruña on 9 December, Falcao scored an astonishing five goals, becoming the first player in La Liga since Fernando Morientes in 2002 to net five goals in a match.[90][91][92]

Falcao missed the first La Liga match of 2013 due to muscle fatigue, but returned in the second match against Real Zaragoza on 13 January, where he scored a penalty in a 2-0 victory.[93] In the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against Betis, Falcao scored a header in a 2–0 victory on 18 January.[94] He suffered an muscle injury in a match on 20 January, causing him to miss 3 games, including the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter final against Betis and the first leg of the semi finals against Sevilla.[95][96] Falcao returned for the second leg to score against Sevilla in a 2–2 draw, helping Atlético advance to the finals with a 4–3 aggregate scoreline. Falcao scored a double against Granada in a comfortable 5–0 victory on 14 April. The second goal marked Falcao's 200th career goal (counting both club and nation).[97][98] A week later, Falcao scored the only goal in a 0–1 away victory at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.[99]

In the Madrid Derby the following week, Falcao scored Atlético's only goal once more, albeit in a 1–2 home loss.[100] Falcao scored the last goal for Atlético in a 3–1 away victory over Celta de Vigo. The win assured Atlético Madrid would appear in next season's Champions League for the first time in four years.[101] He scored his last league goal that season in a 1-2 loss against Barcelona four days later.[102][103] In the 2013 Copa del Rey Final, Atlético were trailing 1–0 when Falcao delivered a timely assist to Diego Costa to tie the game. They went on to win 2–1 and defeat their arch-rivals Real Madrid for the first time in 14 years.[104] This was Falcao's first and only domestic cup title with Atlético.

MonacoEdit

It makes me laugh at times when I get asked why I didn't stay at a particular club or why I haven't moved to another side, as if the player has a choice in the matter. I'd say back to journalists: why don't you work at CNN or ESPN? It's the same in football; on very few occasions can the player make the decision to move from one club or to another. There have been occasions when I've not been able to live in the way I want, many times. I want to go to a particular club and in finally I end up at another.

Falcao in 2014, speaking on his move from Atlético Madrid to Monaco.[105]

In May 2013, Atlético Madrid general manager Miguel Ángel Gil Marín announced that the club would not stand in the way if Falcao decided to leave, and that he and the club would support him in his decision.[106] Despite being linked with various clubs such as Atlético Madrid's city rivals Real Madrid and English side Chelsea,[107][108] he eventually signed for newly promoted Ligue 1 side Monaco on 31 May 2013.[109] Falcao subsequently signed a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee,[110][111] believed to be around €60 million, with his net annual salary at Monaco being reported to be around €18.2 million.[110][112][113] Despite the Colombian showing optimism about his Monaco future, Falcao gave an emotional farewell to Atlético during a press interview,[114] expressing his enjoyment with the club and considering it to be "the best time of his career".[115] Falcao went on to say that part of his reason for choosing Monaco was to follow the footsteps of his idol, Thierry Henry.[116][117] Monaco sporting director Vadim Vasilyev said that the club hoped to build a team around Falcao and provide a direct challenge in Ligue 1 to Qatari backed PSG.[118]

2013–14 seasonEdit

 
Falcao warming-up for AS Monaco in 2014

Falcao made his Ligue 1 debut in the first match against Bordeaux on 10 August, where he managed to score in the 88th minute, sealing a 2–0 victory.[119][120] Eight days later, he scored the opening goal, a penalty, in a 4–1 victory against Montpellier.[121] In a match against Marseille on 1 September, Falcao scored the equalizer in a 2–1 victory.[122] In a match against Lorient, Falcao scored an early penalty kick, which proved to be the winner in a 1–0 victory.[123] Falcao managed to equalize with a diving header in a tough away match against French champions Paris Saint-Germain; the game would end 1–1 and keep Monaco on top of the league table.[124] Days later, Falcao scored a double against Bastia in a 3–0 victory.[125][126] This also brought his goal tally to seven, making him top scorer in Ligue 1.[127]

Falcao ended his four-game goal drought for Monaco in a 2–1 win over Lyon, scoring with an impressive chip.[128] On 27 November, it was reported that Falcao failed to fully recover from a thigh injury prior to his last match for the club, and he was forced to miss the next four league matches.[129][130] Falcao made his return after being brought on within the second half against Valenciennes, where he missed a penalty kick as Monaco lost 2–1.[131]

Falcao was reportedly heavily linked with Chelsea during the winter transfer window,[132][133] with Chelsea even agreeing to an "₤80 million deal" with Monaco, but Vasilvey denied these rumours and said Falcao "wasn't going anywhere" and is "very happy at the club."[134]

Falcao started 2014 by making his Coupe de France debut in a match against Vannes, where he both assisted and scored a goal in a 3–2 victory.[135] Falcao's second goal of the month came in the Coupe de France once more, where he scored a goal before being substituted due to an injury sustained in the first half of a 0–3 victory against Monts d'Or Azergues Foot.[136][137]

On 23 January, the club confirmed on its website that Falcao had suffered a severe ACL injury in his left knee that would require 6 months to recover,[138] and would also miss the 2014 FIFA World Cup, while effectively ending his 2013–14 season entirely.[139] Falcao went on to say that he and his doctors were confident in a speedy recovery.[137][140] Falcao also went on to say that he wanted to play in the match himself, and that Monaco head coach Claudio Ranieri did not force him to.[141]

2014–15 seasonEdit

Falcao's full recovery was confirmed in mid-July, where he would play regularly in pre-season matches for Monaco after six months sidelined.[142] He returned on the field at the Emirates Cup coming on as a substitute for Dimitar Berbatov in the 72nd minute as Monaco drew 2–2 against Spanish side Valencia.[143] The next day, he played the first hour of the match against Arsenal and scored the only goal of the game in the 36th minute.[144]

On 10 August, in his first competitive match since his injury, Falcao came on for Lucas Ocampos after 59 minutes and scored a penalty, though Monaco lost 2–1 at home to Lorient.[145] Two weeks later, he started away to Nantes and scored the only goal of the game, heading in Layvin Kurzawa's cross before half-time for the club's first points of the season.[146] Amidst rumours of a transfer, Falcao was not included in Monaco's next match against Lille, and watched from the stands next to club owner Vadim Vasilyev.[147] Falcao's father later said that Falcao left Monaco because they changed the "original plan" and decided to sell all the players they had bought, mostly referring to the departure of James Rodriguez to Real Madrid.[148]

Manchester United (loan)Edit

 
Falcao playing for Manchester United in 2015

On 1 September 2014, Manchester United agreed to sign Falcao on a season-long loan for £6 million subject to a medical examination with an option to sign permanently for £43.5 million (€55 million) at season's end.[149] The deal saw him earn £265,000 per week at the club.[150] Manchester City had previously opted out of signing him due to squad size, and he had also been linked to Juventus, Arsenal, and Real Madrid.[149] United confirmed the transfer in the early hours of 2 September.[151] Despite joining temporarily under a loan contract, Falcao said he would fight to stay at United for many years and become a legend at the club.[152][153] Cristiano Ronaldo praised Falcao and United for the transfer, calling him a "top, quality, very good player", saying that United did "very well" and that he was a "fantastic buy."[154][155]

Every football player wants to play, that's very normal, but I respect the manager and the decisions he makes. I keep working hard in training, learning every day how to play in different systems, in different styles of football. Manchester United is a great club, I am very happy to be here and because of this I am happy to be patient.

Falcao in 2015, speaking on his development under Louis van Gaal.[156]

Falcao made his debut at Old Trafford on 14 September, playing the final 23 minutes of a 4–0 win over Queens Park Rangers in place of Juan Mata, as United won for the first time in the season.[157] His debut was marked by rapturous applause from the club's supporters as they continuously chanted his name both while he was warming up and on the pitch.[158] On 5 October, he scored his first goal for United, the winner in a 2–1 home victory against Everton.[159] On 8 December, Falcao was left on the bench over 19-year-old James Wilson against Southampton, and Van Gaal later said that Falcao "was only fit enough to play 20 minutes."[160] On 20 December, Falcao made his return for the first time in the starting line-up to score a goal in the second half in a 1–1 draw with Aston Villa.[161] Six days later, he provided an assist for Wayne Rooney against Newcastle United, and United went on to win the match 3–1.[162] On New Years' day 2015, Falcao equalised against Stoke City in a 1–1 away draw.[163]

After being left out of the squad against Southampton on 11 January in favor of 19-year-old James Wilson, Van Gaal said he did not regret making that decision,[164] and furthermore, his future at United was put under doubt when his agent, Jorge Mendes, stated in January that his client "may not be at Old Trafford at the start of next season".[165] After failing to offer any shots, either on or off target, and only having 26 touches against League One side Preston North End on 17 February, Martin Keown, a BBC commentator, described his struggling performance as "another night of nothing from Falcao" and questioned if he was "fit enough".[166] On 10 March, a day after being an unused substitute as United were knocked out of the FA Cup at home by Arsenal, Falcao played for their under-21 team in a 1–1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, being substituted after 72 minutes.[167] The demotion was publicly criticised by former footballers Dietmar Hamann and Willem van Hanegem, whom had described the decision Van Gaal made to be "disrespectful" and "disgraceful, despite Van Gaal saying that he didn't "intend to humiliate" Falcao.[168][169][170] Diego Maradona also criticised Van Gaal for his treatment of Falcao, saying, "he was closer to the devil than anything."[171] At season's end, he was adjudged by many to be among the worst signings of the season.[172][173] On 24 May 2015, United announced their decision to not exercise their buy option on Falcao, ending a spell at the club in which he scored 4 goals in 29 appearances.[174]

 
Falcao playing for Chelsea in 2015

Chelsea (loan)Edit

On 3 July 2015, Chelsea signed Falcao on a season-long loan deal worth £4 million with the option of a permanent transfer at the end of the season for a fee of £38 million (€50 million),[175] and with a salary of £170,000 a week.[176][177] The move briefly reunited him with his Colombia teammate Juan Cuadrado and former Atlético Madrid teammates Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois. Midfielder Mario Pašalić went to Monaco on loan in exchange for Falcao joining Chelsea.[178]

Falcao made his debut on 2 August in the 2015 FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, replacing Loïc Rémy at half time as Chelsea lost 1–0 to rivals Arsenal.[179] His league debut came six days later in a 2–2 home draw with Swansea City, playing the final six minutes in place of Willian.[180] On 29 August, again as a replacement for Willian, Falcao scored his first and only Chelsea goal, equalising in an eventual 1–2 home defeat to Crystal Palace.[181] On 3 November, Falcao picked up a muscular injury in training, and was ruled out for a "few weeks",[182] On 30 December, new manager Guus Hiddink said he would be out "for ten days, although not match fit."[183] However on 15 January 2016, new manager Guus Hiddink confirmed that Falcao's latest injury setback was "very serious".[184] He was dropped from the team's Champions League squad the following month, in favour of new addition Alexandre Pato.[185]

2016–17 seasonEdit

 
Falcao playing for Monaco in 2016

Upon Falcao's return to Monaco in July 2016, he was made team captain by coach Leonardo Jardim.[186] On 27 July, Falcao scored for Monaco in his first appearance for the club in two seasons; a Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahçe.[187] On 17 September, he scored his first Ligue 1 goal of the season in a 3–0 win over Stade Rennais at the Stade Louis II.[188] On 5 November, he scored twice in the first half as Monaco defeated Nancy 6–0 in a league match, following his two first-half goals against CSKA Moscow in a 2016–17 Champions League group stage match three days earlier.[189]

On 3 December, he scored two goals against Bastia in a 5-0 win.[190] A week later, on 10 December, Falcao scored his first Ligue 1 hat-trick in a 4–0 win against Bordeaux which boosted his 2016–17 season tally to 14 goals in 15 competitive games, and 10 goals in Ligue 1 with just 579 minutes of Ligue 1 playing time, meaning that Falcao scored an average of one Ligue 1 goal in every 58 minutes of Ligue 1 playing time.

On 4 February 2017, Falcao scored a brace in a 3–0 victory over Nice.[191] A week later, he scored another brace, this time in a 5–0 victory over Metz.[192] On 21 February, Falcao scored two goals; the first with a diving header from Fabinho's cross from the right and the second with a chip over Willy Caballero, but missed a penalty in a 5–3 away loss to Manchester City in the Champions League round of 16 first leg match.[193][194] Despite him missing out at the second leg at home due to injury, Monaco eventually won the match 3–1 (6–6 on aggregate) and qualified to the quarter-finals on away goals rule.[195] On 19 April, he scored Monaco's second in their 3–1 victory over Borussia Dortmund to put the team into the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2004.[196] Falcao ended the season claiming the Ligue 1 title and as the club's top scorer with 30 goals in 43 appearances.[197] On 1 June, Falcao extended his contract a further three years, keeping him at the club until 2020.[198]

2017–18 seasonEdit

Falcao started off the season with a goal in Monaco's first league match, Monaco's second in a 3–2 win at home to Toulouse. Two weeks later, he scored the first hat-trick of the Ligue 1 season in a 4-1 win against Dijon.[199] He then scored the only goal against Metz, and a week later scored a double – including a penalty – against Marseille, raising his tally to seven goals in four matches.[200] Falcao's form led him to being nominated for 2017 Ballon d'Or.[201][202] After losing a match 4-0 at the hands of OGC Nice, Falcao responded with two more braces against Strasbourg and Lille respectively. Upon scoring for Monaco against former club FC Porto in a Champions League game in December 2017, Falcao refused to celebrate out of respect to his former club. He was applauded by Porto fans for the gesture.[203] Five days later, he opened his mark in the Coupe de la Ligue match vs Caen, which ended in a 2-0 win.[204] On 31 January 2018, he scored a double against Montpellier at the Stade Louis II to help send Monaco to the final,[205] where Monaco eventually lost 3-0 to PSG. Falcao finished the season as top scorer with 18 league goals in 26 matches.

2018–19 seasonEdit

Falcao began the season on a high note during Monaco's first match of the season, assisting Monaco's second and scoring their third in a 1–3 away victory against Nantes.[206] He scored the decisive goal in a 1–0 victory against Caen on 24 November 2018, a free-kick which ended Monaco winless streak of 13 games.[207] Four days later, Falcao played against his former club Atletico Madrid for the first time since he left in 2013. Monaco eventually lost 2-0, and Falcao missed a penalty.[208] On 4 December 2018, Falcao scored two penalties in an 0–2 away win against Amiens.[209] On 22 January 2019, Falcao opened his tally in the Coupe de France, scoring in a 1–3 loss to Metz. Despite Falcao's goal, Monaco were eliminated from the competition. [210] Although he finished as Monaco's top scorer with 16 goals across all competitions, this was certainly a season to forget for them, as they barely avoided relegation.

GalatasarayEdit

On 2 September 2019, Falcao joined Süper Lig club Galatasaray on a free transfer, as his contract with Monaco had expired, with a three-year contract and a salary of €5 million per year.[211][212] He was welcomed by over 25,000 fans on the previous day at the Istanbul Atatürk Airport.[213] He scored a goal on his debut in a 1–0 home win against Kasimpasa on 13 September.[214][215] In a Turkish Cup match against Tuzlaspor on 17 December, he scored a goal to help his team make it to the next round and overturn a 0–2 first leg loss. [216] On 28 December, he scored his first brace with the club in a 5–0 win over Antalyaspor at home.[217] On 1 March 2020, he scored his first brace of the year against Gençlerbirliği in a 3–0 win at the Türk Telekom Stadium.[218]

International careerEdit

Youth careerEdit

Falcao played for the Colombia national under-17 team at the 2001 South American Under-17 Football Championship, where he played four matches[219][220][221][222] and scored one goal against Bolivia. He was also called up to the under-17 team for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship, but sustained an injury before the tournament and had to drop out.[223]

Falcao's first call-up to the under-20 team was for the friendly tournament Copa Simón Bolívar in Venezuela in 2003.[224][225] He played in the 2004 Toulon Tournament, scoring his only goal at the tournament against Turkey.[226] In the 2005 South American U-20 Championship, where he was champion with his team, he played five matches[227][228][229][230][231] and scored once, on 23 January in the 1–1 draw against Argentina. In the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, Falcao played three matches and scored twice, against Canada and Syria.[232]

2011 Copa AméricaEdit

After missing the 2007 edition due to injuries, Falcao's first major international tournament was the 2011 Copa América in Argentina. After failing to score against Costa Rica and the hosts, he netted both goals in a 2–0 win against Bolivia, the second a penalty, leading Colombia to top their group.[233] In the quarter-finals, Falcao missed a penalty kick against Peru, which would have won the game had it gone in, and the opponents were able to score two goals in extra time to eliminate his team.[234]

2014 World CupEdit

 
Falcao playing in a World Cup qualifier for Colombia against Uruguay in 2013. He would suffer an ACL injury that would rule him out of the 2014 World Cup four months later.

Falcao's first match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers started off with a goal against Bolivia in the last minute of added time, giving Colombia the win. Under new management of the national team led by Argentine José Pékerman, Falcao scored a goal against Mexico in a friendly that ended 2–0. Falcao's talents were shown against Uruguay, scoring in the second minute to help Colombia win 4–0. In the same match, he assisted Juan Camilo Zúñiga, sealing the 4–0 victory in the final minutes of stoppage time. Falcao scored again days later as well as providing an assist against Chile to help give Colombia a 3–1 away win which put them second in the table, one point behind Argentina. On 12 October 2012, Falcao scored both goals in a 2–0 victory over Paraguay.[235]

"When they told me at first that I had a serious injury and there was only a small chance of participating (in Brazil), I didn’t care whether it was 10, 20 or 50 percent; I was counting on THAT chance. This is my hope and with this dream, I will work every day. A lot has to do with my emotional state. This is something that I can manage each day."

Falcao on his injury and a possible chance to make it to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[236]

In Falcao's first game of 2013, he played in the qualifying match against Bolivia. Falcao scored the fourth goal in the final minutes of the game.[237] Falcao scored a penalty against Peru in the 13th minute where Colombia won 2–0.[238][239] On 11 October 2013, in the penultimate World Cup qualifying match against Chile, Falcao scored two penalties to tie 3–3 after trailing 0–3. This result ensured Colombia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.[240][241] Falcao ended the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign as Colombia's top scorer with nine goals.[242]

On 23 January 2014, due to a severe ACL injury, it was announced that Falcao would likely miss the World Cup.[243] However, Falcao expressed his optimism, believing that it was possible to make a speedy recovery.[139] Falcao received tremendous support worldwide on social media for a speedy recovery; a social media movement entitled 'Fuerza Tigre' (meaning 'stay strong Tiger' in Spanish) rapidly grew popularity.[244] Among those who wished him a quick recovery was Pau Gasol, professional basketball player in the NBA.[245] Juan Manuel Santos, former president of Colombia, visited Falcao in the hospital he was staying at in Porto.[246][247]

On 5 February, Falcao was included in José Pékerman's 30-man squad list (later to be narrowed to 23 in May) for the World Cup.[248] In mid-May, Falcao's father, Radamel Garcia, told RCN Radio that Falcao was "60 percent fit, but not match-fit."[249] In March, his surgeon said there was "no reason why Falcao couldn't play at the World Cup."[250] On 25 May, Falcao arrived in Argentina to train with the rest of the squad. However, he eventually made the decision not to join the squad as he did not feel right taking up a position if not at full health, and was left out of the final squad on 2 June.[251][252]

2015 Copa AméricaEdit

Falcao would score his first international goal in 11 months after starting for the first time since his injury against El Salvador on 10 October 2014. It was his first ever headed goal for his country while influencing the other two goals in a 3–0 victory.[253] In a friendly against Bahrain on 26 March 2015, Falcao assisted one goal and scored a double in a 6–0 win, making him one goal shy of Arnoldo Iguarán's record as Colombia's top scorer.[254] Four days later, he drew level with Iguarán by scoring his 24th goal with a penalty in a 3–1 win over Kuwait.[255][256]

On 6 June, he broke the record as Colombia's top scorer by scoring the only goal to defeat Costa Rica in a friendly in Buenos Aires ahead of the 2015 Copa América.[257] He captained the team at the tournament[258] but failed to score and grab any assists in three group matches. he didn't start the quarter-final against Argentina, coming on as a substitute for Jackson Martínez in the 74th minute on 26 June; Colombia ended up losing the match in a penalty shootout (4-5).[259]

2018 World CupEdit

 
Falcao during the penalty shootout against England

On 4 November 2016, Falcao was recalled to the Colombia squad for the first time in 388 days for Colombia's next two 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Chile on 10 November and Argentina on 15 November. He had last played for Colombia on 13 October 2015, in a 3–0 loss to Uruguay in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match in Montevideo, and had not been selected in Colombia's squad for the Copa América Centenario.[260][261]

On 7 June 2017, Falcao became the Colombian national team's all-time top-goalscorer, scoring his 26th goal in a 2–2 draw with Spain.[262] He went on to score twice in the team's four remaining World Cup qualifying matches, as Colombia confirmed their qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on 10 October 2017.[263] The last qualifying match against Peru ended up in a 1–1 draw, a result that sent Colombia through automatically and Peru into a play-off with New Zealand at Chile's expense as they lost to Brazil. Footage emerged of Falcao talking to the Peruvian players in what was suggested could be an alleged "pact" to see both teams through.[264] Peruvian midfielder Renato Tapia admitted to the speculation by saying that the Colombians approached them about the draw as they knew the results of the other games. Falcao admitted to knowing what was happening in the other games, but denies making any arrangement.[265][266]

Having missed the previous World Cup due to injury, Falcao made his World Cup debut against Japan on 19 June, in Colombia's first group game of the 2018 World Cup, with Colombia losing 1–2.[267] On 24 June, Falcao scored his first World Cup goal in Colombia's 3–0 win over Poland.[268] After his goal, Falcao left the field to a standing ovation, and Colombia's manager, José Pékerman, stated after the game: "I think (Falcao's goal) is one of the greatest joys that we received tonight. He is a symbol of the national team, a symbol of Colombian football."[268]

2019 Copa AméricaEdit

On 30 May 2019, Falcao was included in the 23-man final Colombia squad for the 2019 Copa América.[269] He had a poor tournament overall, with no goals or assists to his name, and didn't play the full 90 minutes in any of his matches. Colombia eventually lost 5-4 on penalties to Chile in the quarter-finals.

Style of playEdit

Falcao has been described as a "natural goal scorer" and a striker with the "ability to bag a goal from nothing".[270][271] He can hold up the ball well due to his high strength and is able to play off the shoulder of the last defender.[272] Described as a "poacher", Falcao is frequently labeled as a "pure striker", often playing as a traditional "number 9" and capitalizing on less amount of chances than the typical goal scorer.[272][273][274] His powerful and accurate shots are highly noticeable throughout his games regardless of distance and/or positions, and he is also known to have a tendency to take curved and chip shots.[275][276] Falcao is well known for having a strong weak foot (left) that is on equals with his right foot (preference), allowing him to be flexible with goal scoring.[272][277] Falcao controls a well-balanced pace, helping him keep his stamina in check and allowing him to often outrun other players in the most critical 50/50 moments.[277] While Falcao is only of average height (1.77 m), his heading and jumping technique has given him an edge in aerial battles for balls.[223][278][279] Falcao has also been praised for his free-kick ability, which is rarely seen from a striker.[280]

I'd like to play with him. Falcao is a great player and is at a very high level. He has won everything in a season in which he scored many goals. He is, today, the great reference of Colombian football.

Lionel Messi, June 2011.[281]

In his prime before his ACL injury, he was often considered one of the best strikers in the world.[282][81][283] Falcao's talents have been recognized by many footballers and managers. Former Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo thought Falcao was the "best striker in the world" and that he "wouldn't swap him for Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi."[284] Former Barcelona and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola described him as "sensational" and as one of the most talented in the world.[285][286][287] Before Falcao's ACL injury, Fabio Capello considered him to be on the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.[288] Hernán Crespo said Falcao was the best of "human players", also mentioning that Ronaldo and Messi are "on another level."[289] Former Atlético Madrid teammate Gabi said in 2012 that he thought Falcao was the best at heading the ball and finishing in the world.[290][291] Lionel Messi spoke highly on him: he said, "Falcao is a great player: his quality on the ball and the way he shoots are really impressive."[292]

Personal lifeEdit

 
Falcao's signature

Falcao is a second generation footballer; his father, Radamel García, played professionally as a defender in Colombia and Venezuela, and moved to the latter country with the family when Falcao was five. García died on 3 January 2019, aged 61, due to cardiac arrest while playing tennis.[293][294] When Falcao was in Venezuela, he played Baseball, the country's most popular sport. However, when the family returned to Colombia in 1995, Falcao turned his attention back to football.[295]

His name derives from the 1980s Brazil national team, Internacional and Roma legend Paulo Roberto Falcão, as a tribute from his father, Radamel García.[296] Despite being named Radamel, he prefers to use his middle name in interviews. His nickname, "El Tigre" (Spanish for "The Tiger"), was given by Gonzalo Ludueña, his teammate at River Plate. Falcao scored two goals in a match versus Huracán, and the man of the match trophy he later won had a tiger on it, so Ludueña began to call him "El Tigre".[297] Falcao has been married to Argentine singer and model Lorelei Tarón since 2007, where they met in a church while Falcao was playing for River at age 18.[298] In early 2013, it was revealed that Falcao was expecting his first child with her.[299][300] Dominique García Tarón was born on 13 August 2013, at the Princess Grace Hospital in La Colle, Monaco.[301][302] His second daughter, Desirée García Tarón, was born in February 2015.[303][304] His third daughter, Annette García Tarón, was born in August 2017.[305] In December 2018, Falcao remarried his wife.[306] In March 2020, both Falcao and Lorelei revealed that they were expecting their fourth child on social media.[307][308] Their first son, Jebediah García Tarón, was born in September 2020.[309][310] Due to his wife's Polish ancestry, his children also hold Polish passports, thanks to Monaco teammate Kamil Glik, who helped with the process.[311] Falcao is a devout Christian,[140] and Gonzalo Ludueña said about his faith that, "We hid from Falcao because he would look for us in every room to take us to church on Sunday, our free day."[312]

He is partially of English descent; George King, one of his great-grandfathers, emigrated from nearby Selby, North Yorkshire in 1932 with his wife to work as an accountant for the United Fruit Company in Colombia and start a new life. His wife later died in childbirth, so he married a Colombian woman and had 5 children, including Falcao's grandmother, Denis. King was later murdered in 1960.[313] Owing to this ancestry, Falcao's father attempted to make it easier for his son to play in Europe by obtaining a British passport for him, but this was rejected.[314][315] His uncle was the telenovelas and film actor Herbert King, who died in August 2018.[316][317]

Legal IssuesEdit

In mid-2017, Falcao was investigated for allegations of tax evasion committed while he was playing for Atletico Madrid from 2011 to 2013. He was accused of using shell companies from the British Virgin Islands, Ireland, and Panama to avoid having to pay image rights taxes, and he was also accused of defrauding around €5.6 million of income earned from image rights.[318] He later pled guilty and paid around €8.2 million.[319] In May 2018, he was given a 16-month suspended sentence and a €9 million fine.[320]

Charity WorkEdit

Falcao has donated numerous times to charity organizations and people. He is known for being a very generous person. In 2013, he convinced a Swiss watch manufacturer to donate 100k to a United nations program in Colombia.[321] In January 2015, he helped a 17-year-old Colombian boy find a heart transplant donor.[322][323]

Career statisticsEdit

ClubEdit

As of 24 October 2020.[324][325]
Club Season League Cup[nb 1] League Cup[nb 2] Continental[nb 3] Other[nb 4] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
River Plate 2004–05 Argentine Primera División 4 0 0 0 4 0
2005–06 Argentine Primera División 7 7 0 0 7 7
2006–07 Argentine Primera División 20 3 3 0 23 3
2007–08 Argentine Primera División 27 11 12 8 39 19
2008–09 Argentine Primera División 32 13 6 3 38 16
Total 90 34 0 0 21 11 0 0 0 0 111 45
Porto 2009–10 Primeira Liga 28 25 5 5 2 0 8 4 0 0 43 34
2010–11 Primeira Liga 22 16 3 3 0 0 16 18 1 1 42 38
2011–12 Primeira Liga 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0
Total 51 41 8 8 2 0 24 22 2 1 87 72
Atlético Madrid 2011–12 La Liga 34 24 1 0 15 12 50 36
2012–13 La Liga 34 28 4 2 2 1 1 3 41 34
Total 68 52 5 2 0 0 17 13 1 3 91 70
Monaco 2013–14 Ligue 1 17 9 2 2 0 0 19 11
2014–15 Ligue 1 3 2 0 0 0 0 3 2
2016–17 Ligue 1 29 21 2 1 2 1 10 7 43 30
2017–18 Ligue 1 26 18 1 0 3 3 5 3 1 0 36 24
2018–19 Ligue 1 33 15 1 1 0 0 5 0 39 16
Total 108 65 6 4 5 4 20 10 1 0 140 83
Manchester United (loan) 2014–15 Premier League 26 4 3 0 0 0 29 4
Chelsea (loan) 2015–16 Premier League 10 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 12 1
Galatasaray 2019–20 Süper Lig 16 10 3 1 3 0 22 11
2020–21 Süper Lig 6 5 0 0 1 0 7 5
Total 22 15 3 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 29 16
Career total 375 212 25 15 8 4 86 56 5 4 499 291
Notes

InternationalEdit

As of 13 October 2020[326]
Colombia
Year Apps Goals
2007 8 2
2008 5 1
2009 9 2
2010 4 1
2011 8 4
2012 7 5
2013 9 5
2014 3 1
2015 9 4
2016 2 0
2017 6 3
2018 11 4
2019 8 2
2020 2 1
Total 91 35

HonoursEdit

River Plate[324]

Porto[324]

Atlético Madrid[324]

Monaco[324]

Colombia U20

Individual

Records

ReferencesEdit

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