Partnering Lionel Messi in the front-two is a surprisingly difficult task. The voters all considered who deserved to be there on merit, but who would also bring the best out of the Argentine and lead the line for a ridiculously talented team.
Would Messi thrive alongside a bigger man? Does he need a pacey partner to offer him more options behind the defence? You couldn’t play him with someone like Wayne Rooney could you? They’d just take up each other’s place? If there’s one thing this #TalkingXI debate has established it’s that picking between the best strikers in the world is like deciding who’s skankier; Katie Price or Jodie Marsh?
Yet, you’ve settled on the man who is without doubt the most potent goalscorer in the world behind Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (who’s already in at right-midfield). Nicknamed ‘El-Tigre’, he’s hit over 30 goals in the last three seasons for Porto, Atletico Madrid and Colombia on his way to winning two Europa League titles in a row. Oh, he scored in the final of both victories as well!
This season his combination of power, pace, elusiveness and accurate finishing has returned 26 goals in 25 games, including one delicate chip against Barcelona, five notches at home to Deportivo La Coruna and a hat-trick against Chelsea in the European Super Cup final. That game at the end of August was the moment everyone sat up and really recognised how good the Colombian was. Surprising considering he’s been doing it consistently since he rocked up as a fresh-faced forward at River Plate in 2005.
Atletico Madrid’s number 9 is no ordinary striker. Like his nickname suggests, he’s an animal. Born to prey on the weak, rip apart the strong and dominate all before him. His fleet of foot is dovetailed with a world-class appreciation of space, a fantastic first-touch and the ability to finish astutely with both feet. Think of a pacier Henrik Larsson playing at the top of European football consistently. Everyone, please welcome Radamel Falcao Garcia!
His strong performances for Porto attracted interest; that’s why Atletico signed him for €40million a year and a half ago. His downright disrespect for all who try to contain him now makes the 26 year old a target for every team in Europe – or at least those who can afford to meet the reported €60million buy-out clause Madrid have placed on him.
Honourable mentions go to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robin van Persie who have been majestic for PSG and Arsenal respectively in the past year, but with Falcao, the #TalkingXI has a striker who would not only complement Messi brilliantly with his smart runs in behind, presence in the air and incredible work-rate, but score so many goals that it wouldn’t really be fair asking anyone to defend against them.
Here’s some of the experts and voters telling you why:
“Few players have the ability to share a spotlight with Messi and Ronaldo in Spain, but Falcao does so – and looks comfortable there.” – David Jaca, Mirror Football, @davidjaca
“He’s the best striker in the world just now, and by some margin.” – Colin, @colinmc1888
“Reminds me of Gabriel Batistuta in his pomp. More than just a goalscorer, but a man you could build a club around.” – Jonny Boyle, Talking Baws Editor, @beanroll