Radamel Falcao is no longer the same player he once was; that we can probably say for sure. The Colombian striker has had a torrid time of it this season and appears to be on his way out of elite-level football.
After originally arriving at Manchester United amidst much fanfare in 2014, it soon became clear that Falcao had lost several yards of pace following a serious knee injury. He scored four goals for the Red Devils and was even demoted to the Under-21 team at one point.
Chelsea took a punt on him but soon lived to regret that decision. Not only did Falcao fail to impress during his 11 appearances for the Blues, scoring just once, but he's also suffered a bad thigh injury, rendering him completely useless.
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No one likes to see a footballer suffer from an early decline, but we can't accept Falcao's latest excuse for it. Not only has he said the lack of first-team football at Chelsea has cost him, but he also rather bizarrely pointed towards Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement at Manchester United for the reason he failed to shine there.
He said, according to the Mirror: “I have recovered my knee, what happens now is since then I haven’t had the opportunity to play an entire season to regain confidence and be competitive again.”
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That is, of course, understandable. Most players require a string of games to rekindle their best form, but it was also he who decided to join Chelsea. He knew he would be competing with the in-form Diego Costa for a place in Jose Mourinho's one-striker system.
Falcao also believes he wasn't helped by Ferguson's departure from Manchester United, even though he arrived in the summer of 2014, a whole year after the Scotsman had stepped down.
He added: “It was due to specific circumstances.
“At Monaco, there were decisions from the owners that made me leave. At Manchester United, there was a new manager after 25 years and I couldn’t get the sequence I was looking for.”
But his wage demands, coupled with a thirst for top-level football may be the real reason he has been held back. He could have returned to Monaco's first-team line-up following his knee injury and retained a place in the starting XI, but he refused to take a pay cut and instead chose to leave. It may be a decision he is now regretting.