Atletico Madrid have made many a signing since their promotion in 2002 that has gone horribly wrong, many a gamble that has not paid off. Signing Radamel Falcao was not one of them, although at the time there were suggestions that they were taking a huge gamble in bringing the striker to the Vicente Calderon.
The Madrid club sold Sergio Aguero to Manchester City for 45m Euros in late July last year, and were in the market for a replacement. Aguero had come as a talented teenager in 2006 and had seamlessly replaced Fernando Torres as the club’s talisman a year later. The Argentine would go on to lead the Rojiblancos to the ‘promised land’ of the Champions League and then to Europa League success in 2010, before finally leaving as a world-famous and world-class striker for the Premier League.
Replacing Aguero was going to be tough and Atletico took a gamble – just as any club making any signing would – by splashing out 40m Euros to recruit Falcao, the Colombian striker who had been in Europe for just two seasons, and that too in Portugal. There was scepticism at the time that the former River Plate forward would struggle to fulfil his potential as Atletico’s most expensive signing ever.
Those apprehensions were misplaced, and not just in hindsight. Falcao may have been playing in Europe for just two years before he moved to one of the most historic and biggest clubs in Spain, but he had just led Porto to Europa League glory by shattering Jurgen Klinsmann’s record of 15 goals in the competition.