Could Columbus Crew SC be on the verge of the biggest signing in club history?
According to reports from MundoDeportivo.com and Le Parisien, the Major League Soccer club has been linked with Radamel Falcao. Currently on a loan spell with English Premier League side Chelsea, the Columbian forward has seen scant playing time and may be in line for a move. This is Falcao’s second loan spell in the EPL since signing with French side AS Monaco in July of 2013. He had been with Manchester United during the 2014-15 season.
The specifics of the report state that Columbus has asked MLS to begin initial negotiations with Chelsea over the potential signing of Falcao. Given the single-entity structure of MLS, the league itself is in control over the acquisition of players on behalf of individual clubs.
There was a time when Falcao was looked at as one of the most dynamic strikers in the world. He scored 70 goals in all competitions for La Liga side Atletico Madrid in his two seasons there. He would then move to Monaco starting in 2013 for a reported €60 million transfer fee. He was also a crucial component to a revived Colombia side looking to be a force at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
But a torn ACL suffered while playing for Monaco in January 2014 forced him to miss the World Cup altogether. Since then, his goal scoring form has been inconsistent at best while he’s also struggled to get back to 100 percent health-wise. He’s managed just five goals during his two loan stints in England and has currently been hampered by a thigh injury.
There are certainly a series of question marks surrounding a potential move to Columbus. Despite his recent injury history, Falcao will undoubtedly command a sky high salary by MLS standards. According to Transfermarkt.com, his current market value is in the vicinity of €35 million ($37.45 million). He’s also currently being paid nearly $206,000 per week by Chelsea.
Compare that with the fact that Crew SC attacking midfielder Federico Higuain became the first player in club history to make over $1 million a year in 2015. It’s pretty much a given that if the team wants to bring Falcao in from across the pond, they’ll need to make a significantly larger investment to make it happen. In fact, it’s likely Falcao would command the highest salary in MLS history if this comes to fruition.
Where would he fit in head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter’s system? The club already has a highly accomplished goal-scorer on the roster in Kei Kamara, who scored a total of 26 goals in both the regular season and playoffs last year. Would Berhalter consider shifting away from the single striker formation that has proven so immensely successful in favor of a 4-4-2 shape? Or might he consider a 3-5-2 formation which he has used before in US Open Cup competition?
Though it all, it must be emphasized that this development remains a rumor and should be treated as such. Oftentimes, a player’s agent pushes these kinds of stories around to generate interest in his client. Whether or not Falcao to Columbus Crew SC becomes reality remains to be seen. But it can’t be a bad thing when a footballer of his caliber is spoken in the same sentence with the club.
Investor/operator Anthony Precourt hasn’t been afraid to open the checkbook to improve the product on the field. It nearly resulted in the club’s second MLS Cup in 2015. If indeed this becomes more than a rumor, it proves he remains committed to bringing a title to Columbus.