By Khalis Rifhan
The destination of Atletico Madrid star striker Radamel Falcao has been the hottest transfer story of late, especially after the club's CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin indicated that they will not stand in the way of the Colombian international should he decide to move in the summer.
Speculation was rife that Falcao would move to recently promoted French side AS Monaco, but that is not a done deal and it appears that other destinations are more likely .
Speaking to Goal Singapore in an exclusively arranged interview, Gil Marin confirmed when asked if the player was already deliberating on clubs and then added: "There are many clubs that are interested in him and the club will allow the player to talk to anyone and we will respect any decision that he takes."
But when pressed on strong speculation on Monaco's interest amidst claims from the club itself, he added that the newly promoted French club were nowhere near signing the player.
"Atletico have officially not received any offers for Falcao, be it from Monaco or Chelsea," he stated sternly."There are many clubs that are interested in him and the club will allow the player to talk to anyone and we will respect any decision that he takes.
"In the end, he is free to make his choice."
Manchester City have also been mooted as another likely destination for Falcao by sources close to the player with the arrival of fellow South American Manuel Pellegrini as manager looking likely.
But when Marin was pressed on the matter, the club’s majority shareholder refused to confirm nor deny the speculation, reiterating that he wants the player to make his own decision.
"I can’t comment on it," he stated with a smile. "Let’s leave the decision to the player.”
On Monday evening Goal Singapore learned from a source close to the player and club that the Citizens were closing in on the forward.
"The race is now between Manchester City and Real Madrid," said the source.
"The player has been given the choice to decide his own future with England the likely destination."
Real Madrid's involvement in the transfer is believed to have diminished following the departure of Jose Mourinho on Monday. The Portuguese shares the same super agent, Jorge Mendes, with Colombian international Falcao. The forward was believed to be heading to Monaco in a stop-gap transfer move before ultimately arriving at the rival Madrid club but the player himself laughed off the link to the French side when asked by Singapore reporters on Monday.
"If you believe what is being reported, I have already signed for half the clubs in Europe: Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid," Falcao told reporters.
"Last year, before the (Europa League) final in Bucharest (against Athletic Bilbao), people said I was going to leave and that the club didn't have the budget to keep me.
"All I can say is that I have a contract with Atletico and everything else is speculation."
While there have also been reports suggesting that Atletico do not have full ownership of the star striker – Atletico allegedly sought help from a third-party investor when Falcao was signed from Porto – Gil Marin quashed the accusations.
"Yes, we fully own Falcao, 100 per cent of it," he asserted to Goal Singapore in the private interview.Los Rojiblancosare currently in Singapore for a charity friendly match with a Singapore Selection side on Wednesday, and have been taking part in other activities since landing on Monday.
During the pre-match press conference, the media were prevented from asking coach Diego Simeone questions pertaining to Falcao's future with the club, and the player himself was kept shielded.