It seems congratulations are in order from everyone at See Colombia Travel to Colombian striker Radamel Falcao García Zárate (that’s Falcao to you and me) for his stunning performance in yesterdays Europa League final, confirming what we here at Colombia Travel Blog have long suspected about the awesome potential of Colombian football. Falcao has been all over the back pages of the world’s press (front pages here of course!) this morning and speculation is already mounting that one of Europe’s big-dogs might be sniffing around him come the summer.
Anyone with a good knowledge of football was already completely aware of Falcao’s amazing abilities of course: he scored 17 goals in 14 games on the way to lifting the aforementioned trophy with Porto in 2010/11, so he wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret. Despite constant rumours linking him with a return to life under former boss Andre Villas Boas at Chelsea, Falcao signed a record-breaking deal with Atlético Madrid in 2011, making him the most expensive player in their history at 40 million Euros!
Let’s rewind a bit though, shall we. What’s Falcao’s story, I hear you ask? The Santa Marta-born forward never really had much of a career in the Colombian leagues unfortunately – a spell in the Millonarios youth team is about as good as it got for him on home soil. Although, stat fans, he made his debut in the Colombian ‘Categoría Primera B’ for Lanceros Fair Play (why don’t we have more names like that in English football? Imagine if Chelsea were called ‘The Swordsman of a Good Handshake’…) aged just 13! However, following a move to Argentina’s River Plate his career really took off – call ups to the national team were soon a formality, and a high-profile move to Europe seemed assured. Eventually, in 2009, he made that move, crossing the Atlantic to join Portuguese giants, FC Porto in a deal worth a surprisingly meagre 4 million Euros.
This just about brings us up to speed. In predictable fashion, Falcao, or ‘El Tigre’ as he has come to be known, set the Primeira Liga on fire in his first season, and ended his Porto days with a scoring record of 41 goals in 51 appearances. His subsequent move across the Iberian Peninsula has been a categorical success, capped off yesterday with the wonderful sight of the 26 year old Colombian sensation lifting the Europa League for the second time in his nascent European career.
So where will Falcao be living come next season? As he is only 1 year into a 5 year contract, and a club record signing to boot, it seems unlikely that we will be seeing Falcao in anything other than the red and white of Atletico for at least one more season. Add in the fact that the Colombian is now a defending European champion with the Madrid side and it seems an even more far-fetched prospect. On the other hand, there are teams out there with the unbelievable resources to make a move happen – Manchester City still seem intent on buying everyone who has ever scored a goal in a European competition, Real Madrid look likely to be offloading Gonzalo Higuaín over the summer and might fancy a new striker who already has a Madrid address, and Barcelona (with a new manager) might just be looking to alter their style a little bit in the wake of their recent problems. Spanish news network ‘Marca’ just named him as the best Spanish signing of the 21st Century, so the hype machine is certainly working overtime. It could be an uncomfortable summer for Atlético fans.
One thing is for certain however – the Falcao story still has many years to play out, and Colombia Travel Blog will be waiting expectantly to see what the prodigiously talented Colombian can achieve next.
Plus: a couple more Colombian footballers who may soon be making waves at the top level:
James Rodríguez – The 20 year old Porto midfielder, nicknamed ‘El Nuevo Pibe’ (or ‘The New Kid’ in reference to his perceived role as the heir to Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama) was the revelation of last summer’s Under 20’s World Cup. His wonderful array of skills, particularly his Paul Scholes-esque eye for a pass, has made moves to high-profile clubs a regular talking point. Manchester United, on the lookout for a long-term replacement for the little ginger genius, is the name most mentioned.
Jackson Martínez – Currently plying his trade for Mexico’s Jaguares, the lightening quick Martínez has scored 17 goals so far this season to prompt speculation of an imminent move to Liverpool. Well, King Kenny does seem pretty profligate with the new owner’s cash, so who knows?!
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Thanks for visiting our Colombia Travel Blog. If you want to learn more about coming to Colombia please check out our Colombia tours. Remember you can CHAT WITH US at any time. Follow us on Twitter, and be sure to ‘Like’ us on Facebook.