#9 Radamel Falcao CF by Graham MacAree @MacAree

Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

It’s entirely possible that Chelsea brought Radamel Falcao in on loan solely to prevent Gary Cahill from ever having to face him again. It’s club tradition to buy strikers who have previously excelled against us no matter how their current form looks, and less than three years ago, El Tigre merrily demolished the Blues defence and Cahill in particular, spearheading Atlético Madrid to a 4-1 win in the 2012 Super Cup with a hattrick.

But the intervening years have been rather kinder to Cahill and friends than they have to the Colombian. After a strong season with Atléti, he moved (or, if you’re feeling a little more sinister, was moved) to Monaco for big money as part of their abortive campaign to be PSG-on-the-Riviera, and while Falcao started well in Ligue 1 his form fell off before* he picked up a serious knee injury that ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup.

*People tend to forget that Falcao was struggling even before he tore his ACL, probably because it doesn’t really bode well for his return to his peak.

Poor form and lingering injury doubts were not enough to overcome his aura he’s been carrying around as one of Europe’s top centre forwards, however, and memories of his Porto and Atlético Madrid years prompted Manchester United to make him one of their centerpiece moves of last summer, paying huge wages and a massive loan fee to bring him to Old Trafford on deadline day.

It’s safe to say that that move completely failed to work out for anyone. Despite Robin van Persie having used up an entire years’s worth of competence with his salmon header against Spain and Wayne Rooney continuing to LARP a waddling, belligerent potato, Falcao failed to make any sort of impact for Louis van Gaal's team, scoring just four times last season. His poor record left him as the target of much mirth from Blues supporters until it became obvious that his reward for struggling at United was to spend a year at Stamford Bridge.

There are some striking parallels between Falcao’s arrival — he’s wearing the number nine shirt, after all — and that of Fernando Torres, but it’s safe to say that the expectations surrounding the Colombian are rather lower. He’s come in to replace an aging Didier Drogba rather than to be the main man, after all, and even if he repeats his showing at United he won’t be sticking around to turn good will into utter exasperation.

But Falcao is still, well, Falcao, and completely dismissing the possibility that Jose Mourinho can nurture him back to something like the monster we (and especially Cahill) remember from three seasons ago is unreasonable. He’s looked sharp enough in pre-season so far, and according to the Chelsea medical staff there are no lingering worries about his knee. While nobody’s expecting him to be back to his old self, it’s not too difficult to squint and see this loan turning into something special for all involved.

And if it doesn’t, at least everyone tried.


We Ain't Got No History's 2015/16 season preview was edited by Joe Tweeds and designed by Graham MacAree. If you've enjoyed the work of the authors who generously donated their time to this project, please share with your friends and consider supporting The Chelsea Foundation as a way of saying thank you.