What happened to Radamel Falcao and where is he now?

Robin Bairner
Radamel Falcao turned out for Man Utd, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at his peak

Radamel Falcao was regarded as the deadliest No.9 in the world game when he played for Atletico Madrid from 2011 through until the summer of 2013.

Falcao scored 72 goals in 87 games for Porto then having scored 52 in just 58 La Liga matches for Atleti, who were not as strong then as they are now, he was linked with a move to Real Madrid. Instead, though, he took the route to Ligue 1, where he featured for Monaco before turning out for Manchester United and Chelsea on loan.

He departed Monaco in 2019 and at the age of 35 is about to embark once again on an adventure in Spain’s top flight, having signed with Rayo Vallecano following a stint with Galatasaray.

“I’m Radamel Falcao and I’m very happy to become a Rayo player. I can’t wait to see you in Vallecas. A hug for everyone,” Falcao said via the club’s official social channels after signing on Saturday.

He was able to join after the close of the transfer window because he was a free agent, having been released by Galatasaray on Deadline Day.

Although he had other options, notably from Venezia and Genoa in Serie A, Falcao has elected to move back to Spain, where he enjoyed the greatest days of his career.

What happened to Falcao?

Falcao was the centrepiece of a Monaco project that hoped to challenge PSG for dominance in France, and when he moved to Ligue 1 in 2013, he briefly became the country’s record signing for €60m.

He found the transition to Ligue 1 awkward, and as he was finding his feet he suffered a serious knee injury in a Coupe de France match against amateur outfit Monts d'Or Azergues that prematurely ended his campaign.

Although Falcao bounced back relatively swiftly from the injury – he was back playing again within six months – he grew unhappy with Monaco’s decision to sell countryman James Rodriguez and pushed to leave.

Manchester United snapped him up on loan in the hope that he would rediscover his best form, yet that never materialised. In truth, Falcao had stepped up a level and had done it too rapidly after too great an injury. He never showed his true form at Old Trafford and similarly struggled a year later at Chelsea.

Falcao's career

River Plate (04-09)11145
Porto (09-12)8772
Atletico Madrid (11-13)9170
Monaco (13-19)14083
Man Utd (14-15)*294
Chelsea (15-16)*121
Galatasaray (19-21)4220
*on loan

At this point he was threatening to be branded washed up, yet upon his return to Monaco he was made club captain and, along with the help of a thrilling young talent named Kylian Mbappe, helped Leonardo Jardim’s side win Ligue 1 and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. During that season, he scored 30 goals in 43 matches – much more like that Falcao of old.

His level remained high in 2017/18 even as Monaco faded – he scored 24 in 36 games – then in his final season in France he got 16 in 39.

Ultimately, he left on a free transfer to sign for Galatasaray, where he consistently found the net but was even more consistently injured.

Rayo Vallecano, then, represents Falcao’s last big crack at the big time and a final opportunity to remind fans just why he was regarded as one of the game’s elite players less than a decade ago.