Goal.com 50: Diego Forlan (13)

We are approaching the top ten of Goal.com’s 50 best players of 2008-09, and at No. 13 we have Atletico and Uruguay’s goal-machine, Diego Forlan.

 14. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool & England)

13. DIEGO FORLAN (Atletico Madrid & Uruguay)

12. Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich & France)

Diego Forlan struck up one of Europe’s most tantalising goal-scoring partnerships with fellow South American, Sergio Aguero during his first season at the Vicente Calderon in the 2007-08 term.

Together, they amassed 35 goals in the Primera Division and a lot more was expected of them in the 2008-09 campaign. Forlan, however, was always seen as the supporting act to the superstar that is ‘El Kun’, but instead the Uruguayan surprisingly took over the leading role upfront, although you wouldn’t be able to tell at the start of the season.

‘El Charrua’ wasn’t all that electrifying in the first half of the term, scoring twice in the 4-0 win over Malaga in the opening game before being ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury.

By the turn of the year, he had only netted ten league goals, not a shabby figure by any means, but far from impressive - though that figure would be the exact total number of league goals he scored during his entire three seasons at Manchester United.

But from February onwards, his luck and form would change dramatically. He started banging in goals for fun as he quickly improved his haul for the season, scoring seven times in six games at one point, including two extremely vital strikes in the sublime come-from-behind 4-3 win over Barcelona in March. He also went on to score against city foes, Real Madrid, as well as direct rivals, Villarreal and Valencia.

He ended the season with a remarkable streak of 13 goals in the club’s last ten games, with four assists to boot. Overall, he netted 32 times in 33 league appearances, and that sudden explosive flurry of goals late on undoubtedly helped Atleti nail fourth spot in the table to secure a place in the Champions League qualifiers, the Rojiblancos winning each of their final six La Liga games.


Unstoppable | Forlan celebrates his hat-trick
against Athletic

It also allowed him to overtake rivals such as Samuel Eto’o, David Villa and Lionel Messi to clinch the Pichichi award, while he steamed past Salzburg’s Marc Janko to claim the Golden Shoe.

The striker, once rejected by mighty Manchester United, has now become the first La Liga player to win the Golden Shoe twice, joining other world class icons such as Thierry Henry, Eusebio and Gerd Muller. 

Forlan is more than just a target striker. He often backtracks and drops deep, and that allows him to score some spectacular goals from distance. That’s also part of the reason why was able to provide as many as nine assists last season.

At 30-years-old, he’s not particularly the sprightly, young sensation football clubs are after these days. But such was his devastating form that Spain’s big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, have been constantly linked with his signature during this summer’s transfer window.

A true test for Forlan now will be to see if you can replicate his scoring ratio in the 2009-10 season. Atletico are expected to inject a significant amount of creative, attacking fire-power into the team, especially in midfield, and if he can top score again, he could become the first player in history to win the European Golden Shoe three times.

2008-09 HONOURS

Individual

2009 Pichichi Award (32 goals), Atletico Madrid

2009 ESM Golden Shoe (64 points), Atletico Madrid

KS Leong, Goal.com

 14. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool & England)

13. DIEGO FORLAN (Atletico Madrid & Uruguay)