As the first AS Monaco matchday of the season approaches Sunday, it’s been about eight months since suspected jungle cat and regular Colombian national team captain Radamel Falcao last played in official competition.
What happens at game speed remains to be seen, and it’s likely he’ll be used sparingly to start the season, but in practice at least, Falcao is giving signs of coming back into form.
Falcao, as you may remember, was taken down from behind in January by some third-rate hack in the French league, whose greatest achievement in life may very well be crippling one of the consensus best players on the planet. The ensuing knee injury sidelined the goalscorer for what turned out to be a historic World Cup run for Colombia, regardless.
In his debut return to the field against Arsenal last month, Falcao capped a mediocre game for just about everyone involved with a typically ferocious header, the game’s only tally.
Since, the annual transfer rumor carnival has been up in full swing, with Falcao linked to everyone from Chelsea and Liverpool, to the New York Yankees.
Eventually, Real Madrid emerged as the favorite. But with two weeks left in the transfer window and a big Angel di Maria contract to unload on somebody, the definding Champions League-winners find themselves a bit strapped for cash, most of which they just finished dumping on Falcao’s compatriot and two-time teammate, James Rodriguez.
There’s still a good chance Falcao will be gone soon, if not now then in the winter transfer window or next summer. The main thing holding back a move at this point is that Falcao comes with a hefty price tag, and until he starts playing again, the injury doubts will remain, as they are want to.
Perhaps with that in mind, AS Monaco, his club side — for the time being, at any rate — released a short video montage this week showing “El Tigre” doing the type of things that earned him a nickname like El Tigre in the first place. (You’ll have to watch the video here, because despite making $14270928472 from the James trade, AS Monaco is stingy like that.)
The clip opens, as one might expect, with Falcao punishing the back of an unfortunate net, which proceeds to spray the soccer equivalent of blood into the misty afternoon air.
The cross comes in at an akward height from the wing, too low to meet on the head but not high enough to escape, and Falcao pounces on it with a leaping scissor-kick volley that looks more like a finishing move from Mortal Kombat than anything that should be allowed in a gentlemen’s sporting event.
Next are a couple of relatively pedestrian near-post finishes that nontheless show a good deal of touch and precision, followed by a technically beautiful two-touch volley off of a thigh trap and a graceful across-the-grain header every bit as deadly as it is gentle.
The pièce de résistance, as it were, this being Ligue 1 and all, is a nifty little combination play that Falcao sends off the far post before receiving the ball back, turning, and somehow chipping the keeper from inside the six-yard box.
Granted, this is just training. Granted, it looks like a scoring drill. Granted, if you took enough footage, you could find enough highlight film to make even Teofilio Gutierrez, Falcao’s unfortunate replacement on the national team, look like a young Ronaldo.
But after eight months on the sideline, Falcao’s got to feel pretty good about being able to beat up on practice nets again. It’s certainly nice to be able to watch.