Despite bagging a stunning five goals last night, Radamel Falcao was once again overshadowed by the record breaking Lionel Messi.
But take nothing away from another glorious exhibition by the Colombian hitman.
Bouncing back from last weekend’s defeat to Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid were the proverbial wounded animal, thrashing Deportivo La Coruna 6-0 at the Vicente Calderon.
And they had their goal scoring phenomenon to thank.
Falcao’s five goal salvo leaves him second in the race for the Pichichi – he still trails Messi by seven – not that the player himself is interested in personal records.
“I’m very happy with the great game we had today, both with the way we played and for the goals. I thank God for this, it’s unforgettable. I don’t think about the numbers, if I can continue to improve and do more every day, then so be it.”
Whilst the 26-year-old isn’t worried about the Pichichi, his club are no doubt panicking about keeping hold of their prized asset, who is attracting admiring glances from Chelsea and Juventus, to name a few.
Of course, there are rumours swirling around in preparation for the January transfer window to swing open, regarding not only Falcao’s departure, but the identity of his possible successor.
Rayo Vallecano’s Brazilian prodigy Leo Baptistao has been strongly linked with a cross-city move, and whilst he’s shown some promise, is only 20 and unlikely to shoulder the goal scoring burden that Falcao does on a weekly basis.
It’s a familiar situation for Atletico fans, who have seen other goal getters sold off to balance the books, such as Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan. But losing Falcao could be the most harmful yet.
The Rojiblancos are in nosebleed territory, sitting in second place behind Barcelona, though that defeat to their city rivals leaves them six points adrift of top spot. It’s realistic to call Diego Simeone’s side title contenders this year, pushing for a crown they haven’t worn since 1996. The team that won the title then had a key component – Simeone.
It’s imperative for Atleti to keep hold of Falcao if Simeone is to lift the title again. He’s revitalized a team that was treading water under Gregorio Manzano last season, and having tasted Europa League success against Athletic Bilbao in May, El Cholo is hungry for more silverware. The Argentine Coach outlined Falcao’s importance to the team after watching him demolish Depor.
“People love him and his team-mates respect him. Falcao has ambition, enthusiasm and always wants more. Today is a historic day for him and for Atletico.”
Atletico’s finances are well documented, hence the mass speculation that they will cash in on Falcao, but the player himself has insists he’s not interested in a move and that club economics will determine his future, as well as potential Champions League qualification.
If they continue their recent success, it’s possible that Atleti fans will watch El Tigre feast on opposition defences for some time yet – and possibly return to challenging for the La Liga crown in the process.