Falcao for Torres swap may be just what the doctor ordered

9 Comments

In the buildup to what promises to be a drama filled summer transfer window, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has raised questions on Radamel Falcao’s future while simultaneously opening the door for a dramatic return of Fernando Torres to his former club.

When asked what Falcao’s future may hold, Simeone was tight-lipped: “I’m not Falcao and I’m not his agent,” he said with a shrug. “He always gives his all and I really respect players who do that. But everyone makes their own decisions in life. Every person is different, and we have to respect each other.”

Simeone’s comments do little to support the notion that Falcao will be leading Los Rojiblancos line come next season. One year removed from scoring 24 goals in 33 La Liga appearances and 12 in 13 Europa League ties, rumors of El Tigre’s impending departure have been swirling like World Cup Qualifying blizzards in Denver. This season he’s already nabbed 21 goals in 51 league matches and conventional wisdom suggests the Premier League would be a naughty fit for Falcao’s furious power and strike rate.

Up until today, rumors of a Falcao move to Chelsea or Manchester City were largely just that, rumors. Now it’s clear that Atleti higher-ups like Simeone aren’t holding out much hope for Falcao to remain at the Vicente Calderon.

The Atleti manager added more fuel to the fire by discussing Torres’ potential return to the red and white stripes. “Fernando knows about the club’s history, what it means to play here and I don’t need to speak about his ability,” Simeone said. “We were team-mates. I know how important he can be.”

If a deal were to go down, many believe it would involve swapping Torres for Falcao, with Roman Abramovich throwing in a briefcase full of unmarked bills. But as discussed on this site last week, don’t be surprised if the sky-rocketing value of Thibaut Courtois changes the complexion of this deal.

While Los Colchoneros will likely welcome Torres home with open arms, few will feel that El Nino can fill the Columbian’s shoes. Falcao is simply better. His skill, technique, finishing ability and aerial prowess all trumps that of Fernando. More to the point, Falcao’s most impressive attribute is his unwavering focus and fortitude – a quality that has long disappeared from Torres’ makeup.

The proof is in the pudding. At Liverpool, Torres finished with aplomb from every angle on the park. Not unlike Falcao now, Torres was a predator, a player who plied his trade on instinct and one touch finishes. Scoring without thinking was Fernando’s trademark, helping him to an incredible 65 goals in 102 league matches while at Liverpool from 2007-10.

With the monster $79.5 million transfer fee to Chelsea in January 2011, a handful of niggling injuries and a demanding fan base, El Nino lost his mental edge. Instead of relying on blind instinct Torres over-thought everything, leading to his mental midget demise and a mere 14 goals in 74 Premier League matches.

But to close the book on Torres now would be a mistake. Despite his low goal total, he’s shown flashes of the old Fernando throughout the season and a return to his boyhood club – a move that recently revitalized the career of fellow countryman Jose Antonio Reyes at Sevilla – may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

So what do you think of a potential Falcao-for-Torres swap? Is Torres done? Or could a return to the Vicente Calderon revitalize his career?

What’s next for Julian Green, and what’s gone wrong?

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Julian Green will have a new team again soon, in all likelihood.

A Stuttgart publication says Green is on the transfer market this month, just eight months after moving from Bayern Munich to the then-2.Bundesliga side for less than $500,000.

Now 22, Green is three and a half years removed from Jurgen Klinsmann’s long campaign to get him into a USMNT shirt. It’s been a little less time since he scored in extra time against Belgium in the World Cup, but also less than a year since he scored goals in consecutive USMNT matches. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

Green scored one goal in 10 appearances for Stuttgart, who was promoted to the Bundesliga at the end of last season. He fell out of favor there, but was far from poor. Green completed 87 percent of his passes and averaged 1.3 dribbles per game (only four teammates had more, though 10 matches is a smaller sample size).

Before that, he spent parts of three seasons with Bayern Munich and made just four appearances, taking a loan to Hamburg in 2014-15 that saw him banished to Hamburg II after just five appearances.

What gives? Whether attitude or skill, Green has a lot of work to do to get back to a level where he’s a reasonable USMNT call-up (Green has a respectable three goals in eight call-ups, netting against Cuba and New Zealand in Oct. 2016). Still, it’s far from over for Green at 22.

There are legit questions here, as the list of not high-profile players Bayern Munich has used in its senior team at a young age and blossomed elsewhere isn’t necessarily impressive (at least relatively speaking). Nils Petersen, Thomas Kraft, and Sandro Wagner are exceptions to the rule. Better put: Bayern has a really good idea what it’s doing when it lets young players walk, and it begs discussion on the best path for Green.

It seems likely he could get a move to another 2.Bundesliga club, and there’s an outside shot he could get a look in the top flight. It would be interesting to know where the interest lies abroad. Would it be hard to acquire a work permit for France or Spain (England seems a hard sell)? Could a move to a free-flowing Eredivisie club work?

Obviously Major League Soccer clubs would welcome his talent and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be a useful piece in the United States’ top tier, even if on a short-term move as he looks to regain confidence. Would Green see it as below him?

Arsenal’s Wilshere sent-off after brawling in U-23 match vs. Man City

Photo by James Chance/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere isn’t standing around waiting for his next team, he’s fighting.

Period.

Wilshere got into with several members of Manchester City’s U-23 side in a match on Monday, with the English midfielder taking exception to a hockey-style hip check from City’s Matthew Smith.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

Shoving the 17-year-old Smith, Wilshere saw the City man take a tumble and stay prone. Still riled up, Wilshere tangled with City’s Tyreke Wilson.

Wilshere and Wilson were sent off.

Given his injury history, we’re not surprised Wilshere took exception to a hard and needless foul in a U-23 match.

The Arsenal man has been linked with moves to Newcastle, West Ham, AC Milan, and Sampdoria, but Arsene Wenger wants to keep Wilshere at the Emirates Stadium.

Report: PSG to dodge FFP by signing Mbappe on loan, sending Moura to Monaco

Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Paris Saint-Germain’s fight to win a UEFA Champions League will receive a major boost from its main Ligue 1 rivals.

Reigning champions AS Monaco have been frustrated by phenomenal and combative forward Kylian Mbappe seeking a move to join Neymar at PSG. Mbappe was reportedly kicked out of Monaco training this week.

That move is very difficult for PSG to pull off thanks to Financial Fair Play; Les Parisiens spent more than $260 million to sign Neymar from Barcelona.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

The way around it? Sky Sports says Monaco will reportedly loan Mbappe to PSG with an agreement to sell the 18-year-old striker permanently after this season. PSG midfielder Lucas Moura would go the other way for this season.

If that rings a bit hollow to those who’d like to see FFP work against massive clubs stockpiling talent, it should; This is hardly any different from spending all the money in one window when considering that Mbappe would join Neymar and Edinson Cavani effective this season.

Incredibly, Sky also has the notion that PSG will bring Fabinho to the Parc des Princes (Yes, from Monaco).

If Mbappe ends up in Paris — forget Fabinho for a second — PSG would be favored to get past its UCL quarterfinals blockade (Les Parisiens were eliminated in the Round of 16 last season by Barcelona after four-straight quarterfinal ousters).

UEFA Champions League playoffs: Differing levels of comfort

AP Photo/Michael Probst
Leave a comment

Only one of 20 playoff-contending clubs has a strong foot in the UEFA Champions League group stage with 10 second legs set for this week.

That’s Scottish champions Celtic, who took a 5-0 lead for manager Brendan Rodgers last week at Celtic Park and heads to the capital of Kazakhstan for a Tuesday date with Astana.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

As for the rest, there are varying levels of comfort. Napoli leads Nice 2-0 and didn’t concede an away goal to the French side, so the Serie A side has to feel pretty good. Liverpool edged Hoffenheim 2-1 in Germany and brings two goals home to Anfield. That, too, is confident footing.

Steaua Bucharest and Sporting CP are the only sides level, scoreless after a match in Portugal.

But Olympiacos is in Croatia and a goal away from being on the wrong foot after a 2-1 win at home to Rijeka, and Hapoel Be’er Sheva has the same situation in Slovenia against Maribor.

At risk? Three high-profile away trips and the same number of group stage home paydays. The losers drop into the Europa League group stage.

Tuesday
All matches at 2:45 p.m. ET unless noted

Astana vs. Celtic (Celtic leads 5-0) — 11:30 a.m. ET
Rijeka vs. Olympiacos (Olympiacos leads 2-1)
Nice vs. Napoli (Napoli leads 2-0)
Sevilla vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (Sevilla leads 2-1)
Maribor vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Hapoel leads 2-1)

Wednesday
All matches at 2:45 p.m. ET

Copenhagen vs. Qarabag (Qarabag leads 1-0)
CSKA Moscow vs. Young Boys (CSKA leads 1-0)
Slavia Prague vs. Apoel Nicosia (Apoel leads 2-0)
Liverpool vs. Hoffenheim (Liverpool leads 2-1)
Steaua Bucharest vs. Sporting CP (First leg 0-0)