In January, the 28-year-old suffered an injury that dramatically altered the course of his career. His knee ligaments were seriously damaged during a Coupe de France match against Chasselay, leaving the striker to fight a hopeless battle to be fit for the World Cup — the event that should have been his crowning glory.
His move to Monaco was meant to be a pit stop before a switch back to Madrid, a necessary stepping stone to allow him to transition to the Bernabeu without breaking an agreement made to former employer Atletico Madrid. After his knee problems, it seems that he may well be marooned on the rocky principality on France’s Mediterranean Coast.
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For Monaco, an asset of the notoriety of Falcao cannot be lightly parted with. After James Rodriguez’s move to Madrid, the club needs the Colombia striker both for his quality and for the prestige that he brings to the project.
While there is no obligation for Monaco to sell, there is little likelihood of Falcao departing for a knockdown price. He was bought for 60 million euros and surely cannot be sold at this stage for anything less than that figure.
A year ago, Falcao guaranteed goals, and while he made his mark by scoring in his return to action against Arsenal in the Emirates Cup, there are questions hanging over his ability to remain prolific for the first time since he established himself as a starter at River Plate.
His time in Monaco last season was, by his illustrious standards, rather modest. It had been expected that he would decimate Ligue 1 defenses, but prior to his injury he was enduring his worst season since moving to Europe. True, he still found the net at a rate of more than a goal every other game, but he did not look like the Falcao who so terrorized La Liga with Atleti mere months earlier.
Ronaldo, for example, managed only seven minutes of soccer between serious knee problems, restricting him to only 17 outings between November 1999 and mid-2000. Thereafter, he may have regained the World Player of the Year award in 2002, but he was never quite the player so devastating in the pre-injury phase of his career.
It would be a tremendous gamble for a club to take to stake 60 million euros or more on Falcao enjoying such a spectacular comeback, particularly off the back of a relatively mediocre campaign. Madrid has already tied Karim Benzema to a new contract, indicating its priorities lie in stability.
Starting on Sunday, when Monaco opens the season against Lorient at Stade Louis II, the onus is now on the striker to prove that the last six months have been a simple blip in an otherwise formidable career. If he can come back strongly, perhaps Madrid or Manchester awaits next summer.
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