Former Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo has expressed his doubts over the club’s loan signing of the Columbian striker Radamel Falcao. Falcao was rated as one of the best strikers in the world until a cruciate ligament injury threatened his career.
Having scored an incredible 62 goals in 72 games for FC Porto and netting 68 times in 86 appearances for Atletico Madrid, Falcao earned himself a £50 million move to Monaco in 2013. The injury meant he missed out on the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and Crespo believes he’ll never be the same player again.
Crespo told BBC World Football, “There is a big difference between Falcao before and after his injury. Before the injury, he was the best of the ‘human players’ – all players apart from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are on another level”. His strike rate at Porto and Atletico Madrid would certainly back up Crespo’s assertion.
Yet the 40 year old feels he could yet force his way into Jose Mourinho’s thoughts in the coming season, saying, “After such an injury, you need time and it’s not easy to recover. It won’t be easy for him. Jose doesn’t give presents away. All [he] has to do is to believe in himself and be the great player he is. That will be enough to convince Mourinho to give him a chance”.
Crespo, who was named by Pele in a list of the 100 greatest living players, is now the manager of Serie B side Modena. He believes that Falcao could improve on his performances at Manchester United last season, when the Columbian disappointed. Falcao found the net just 4 times in 29 appearances for United, leading Louis Van Gaal to decide not to exercise his right to buy his player at the end of his season long loan.
But Crespo said, “He was probably not the kind of player Van Gaal was looking for. You have to take your chances if you want to play regularly. We will see what happens at Chelsea”.
Crespo is Argentina’s third highest goal scorer, having put the ball in the ball in the back of the net 35 times for his country. He is behind only Gabriel Batistuta and Lionel Messi in the list of his country’s leading goal scorers. He scored over 300 goals in a career that spanned 19 years, meaning he can speak with some authority on the ability of a striker to retain the spark necessary to stay at the top of his game.
Crespo also has something else in common with Falcao, as he also was brought in as a back up to Chelsea’s main striker during his second spell at the club. Falcao knows his chances of regular football with the Blues will be limited given that he has been brought in as support for the injury prone Diego Costa.
Crespo played for Chelsea 31 times in his first spell at the club, scoring 12 goals, before being loaned out of the club when Jose Mourinho took over as manager in 2004. They failed to land a big name striker in the summer of 2005, though, so Mourinho recalled Crespo from his loan at Milan in order to have some competition for Didier Drogba. He scored 13 goals in his second spell at Chelsea, helping the club to secure the 2005-2006 Premier League title.
Falcao made his debut for Chelsea in a friendly against Paris St. Germain at the weekend, replacing Diego Costa after 69 minutes. The game finished 1-1 before going to penalties, with Falcao converting the first spot kick. Though it’s only a penalty in a friendly, the Columbian striker will be delighted to be off the mark as he attempts to prove he is far from finished in the game.