Iago Falque endured a turbulent journey to the top, but he appears to have finally made it big with Serie A giants AS Roma.
The Spanish winger started his fledgling football career at Real Madrid as a ten-year-old in 2000 but quickly moved on to bitter rivals Barcelona.
He subsequently spent seven formative years in Catalonia, making a B team debut in 2008. Falque notched on that single appearance, which alerted Juventus to his burgeoning talent.
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The switch to Turin proved to be a false dawn, as he failed to make any headway into the first-team set-up. Loan spells at Villarreal and Tottenham Hotspur followed, and he then extended his stay with the north London outfit for the long-term.
Further temporary stints with Southampton, Almeria, and Rayo Vallecano still didn’t convince the wing wizard’s parent club of any outstanding potential to become a regular in England, thus he featured just once in the Premier League.
Falque sought out another new home in 2014 at Genoa, who enjoyed a stellar campaign that led to a sixth-place finish in Serie A.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s bargain capture from Spurs was integral to their rise, having been handed the opportunity to make 32 league appearances by the highly-rated coach.
It proved to be the winger’s most productive season to date when he struck 13 goals – ten more than his next-best return at Rayo – and assisted a further three. His shots-per-game ratio of 1.9 and averaged 1.5 key passes a match, were also higher than at any previous stage.
Skillful on the ball, direct and possessing the innate ability to arrive in the box at exactly the right time to finish off attacking moves, Falque scored 11 of his goals from inside the area.
Road to Rome
Consistent form landed him an intriguing summer transfer to the Italian capital with Roma, who agreed an initial loan deal that will automatically become permanent by way of a clause in the contract.
The Vigo-born forward stepped off the bench on the opening day of the new Serie A season at Verona, earning a start at home to ex-employers Juventus just over a week later.
His assist for Edin Dzeko to put Roma two-up with 11 minutes remaining effectively ended the reigning champions’ assault at the Stadio Olimpico in an eventual 2-1 victory.
Not content with his invaluable contribution against Juve, the diminutive 25-year-old posted a man-of-the-match performance at newly-promoted Frosinone last weekend when scoring the opener in a hard-fought 2-0 win.
Rudi Garcia’s men must also embark upon a Champions League campaign which pits Falque against former club Barcelona, as well as Bayer Leverkusen and BATE Borisov, in the group phase.
From initial rejection at the Nou Camp to redemption at Roma, the Spaniard has been forced to wait patiently in order to experience significant success.
Judging by his sparkling displays for the Giallorossi so far, though, the versatile star has every chance of making old sides Barca, Juventus and Tottenham regret not placing faith in him. Also, a senior international cap for Spain could be right around the corner.
There’s been no better time for Falque to showcase his real worth on the biggest stage – and to emphatically prove those who’ve doubted him in the past to be entirely wrong over the series of disappointing decisions to let him go.