After prolific striker Radamel Falcao crumbled into a heap, clutching his left knee during AS Monaco’s Coupe de France tie against fourth-division Monts d’Or Azergues, fans of Monaco and the Colombian National Team held their collective breaths, hoping their goal-scoring talisman would get up. Usually, when a player goes down under a tackle these days, they are embellishing, attempting to earn a free kick from the referee or a booking for the offender. However, this was not one of those moments.
Instead of standing up and returning to the play, Falcao was stretchered off the field with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), putting his participation in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in serious doubt. To state the obvious, this is bad news for both Colombia and Monaco. The more immediate impact falls on the Monegasque club, who currently sit in second place in France’s Ligue 1, trailing leaders Paris Saint-Germain by six points.
Monaco bought the highly-rated striker this past summer for a record fee of $87 million from Spanish side Atletico Madrid , where he scored a whopping 34 goals in 41 appearances for the Madrid based outfit. So far this season, the Colombian has already scored nine goals in 17 Ligue 1 appearances, and 11 in all competitions. Having been promoted from Ligue 2 last season, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev took ownership of the club and spent upwards of $230 million to build a side capable of competing for the Ligue 1 title, and more realistically, qualifying for next seasons Champions League.
But without Falcao, Monaco has lost easily their biggest goalscoring threat and will have to go to the market for a new striker before the January transfer window closes in one week’s time. The real issue here, however, is not Monaco, who is a strong enough side to finish inside the top three without Falcao. The team that will feel Falcao’s absence the most is Colombia, who was drawn into the competitive Group C with Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan.
Despite ACL injuries taking a minimum of six months to heal, it may not be all bad news for Falcao and Colombia. According to Dr. Jose Carlos Noronha, the surgeon who performed Falcao’s operation on Saturday, “the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t small,” and he claimed that the 27-year-old striker has a little better than a 50-50 chance of playing in Colombia’s opening game on June 14 against Greece.
With 20 goals in 50 games for Colombia, Falcao is only five tallies away from tying top scorer Arnoldo Iguaran, who scored 25 times in 68 appearances for the Tricolor from 1979-1993. At only 27, it is surely only a matter of time before Falcao breaks that record, but for the time being, he will have to be patient and focus on his recovery.
Hopefully for Colombian fans, and everyone who wants to see the world’s best players fighting for glory in Brazil, the man they call “El Tigre” will make a full recovery and return to prey on the Greek, Japanese and Ivorian defenses come June.