In January, Monaco forward Radamel Falcao went down injured after a heavy tackle during his side’s 3-0 win over Chasselay Monts d’or Azergues in the French Cup. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that the 27-year-old had torn his ACL and would have to undergo surgery. With a recovery time after ACL injury ranging from six to nine months, it looked almost certain that the Colombian would miss out on a trip to the 2014 World Cup.
After Falcao’s operation, however, his surgeon, Jose Carlos Noronha, stated that he believed the forward would be back much sooner than that. But is rushing the return of Colombia’s star striker really such a great idea? In a word, no.
It is selfish for anyone (be it a surgeon, a fan, let alone an entire nation) to put so much pressure on a single player that suffered a devastating injury, no matter how good he might be. Yes, he might play in the World Cup, but even if he does his role would probably be limited and not as impactful as it otherwise might be if he was fully healthy.
Roberto Baggio, Italy’s version of Falcao in the 1990s (and then some) should be the Colombian forward’s inspiration and guiding light. Baggio tore his ACL on January 31, 2002 and recovered in just 77 days, a feat made that much more amazing by the fact that he was 35 years old (yes, you read that right) at the time. Ironically, all that effort didn’t mean a fourth World Cup stint for Baggio, who was left off the 23-man roster by Cesare Maldini.
Colombia, and Monaco for that matter, should take no chances following such a major injury. Even with plenty of recovery time, knee injuries have a way of coming back to haunt players. We recently saw Stu Holden, who tore his ACL back in July, pick up yet another serious injury while trying to ease his way back into competition, playing with Bolton’s U21 side. And then there’s Giuseppe Rossi, who notched 14 goals in 18 appearances for Fiorentina this season, only for doctors to find further damage to his ACL in January.
Yes, Colombia were pegged as dark horses for the World Cup, mostly due to Falcao’s performances up top. But to rush him back to fitness in time for the tournament may compromise his long-term abilities. At his age, Falcao has at least four or five good years left in him. But a botched recovery could very well mean the end of his career instead.
For more on why Falcao shouldn’t be rushed to recovery, visit Soccerly.