Championships last summer brought to fore a new concept, widely known as “the
false nine.” This refers to a system where a team plays with no out and out
striker; instead deploying a creative player in the furthest position on the
field. Their main aim is not so much to score goals but instead act as a foil
for the rest of the attacking players in the team, therefore making their play
fluid, dynamic and unpredictable.
formations that are highly friendly to
this concept, not least the 4-3-3 which is widely used in the Spanish La Liga.
Of course there is still a good number of conventional strikers flourishing in
Spain; a la Karim Benzema and Radamel Falcao from the two Madrid clubs.
However, it is no
secret that the most striker-friendly league among the top European leagues is
the English Premier League. And that is exactly why I am convinced that three
of the finest continental strikers in Europe are headed to the queen’s shores.
We take a quick look at their specific situations.
Just this week named in
the FIFA XI for 2012, there is arguably no better striker in the world right
now than the Colombian. His ratio of goals to games frighteningly resembles
that of the two best players in the world; and that coming with him
representing a smaller club where he plays in less illustrious and capable
company than the Messis and the Ronaldos. A stereotype used to say it is easier
to score in the La Liga than in the EPL but surely Swansea’s Michu has put that
It is no secret that
Chelsea want the Colombian, and they might just hold all the right cards for
this one. With a £50m price tag on the head of Falcao, Chelsea is only one of a
few clubs that could afford him but even if they didn’t want to splash all that
cash, they could just pay a chunk of the entire asking price and offer struggling
Fernando Torres back to his old club. Sounds perfect, right? I am sure Mancini
and the Man City hiearachy would have something to say about that.
As Falcao takes all the
plaudits in the La Liga, a name that has slowly slipped out of the minds of
people is that of Uruguay assassin Cavani. That has not made him any less
dangerous. Cavani’s goalscoring record this season tells us he is scoring an
average of slightly more than a goal a game.
If the battle for
Falcao is between Chelsea and Man City, I reckon Cavani will be the perfect
fallback for the loser in that one. In truth, I don’t think there’s much to
choose between these two dangermen. Oh, apart from the fact that Falcao is
exactly a year older.
A lot of reports
towards the end of the year indicated that only formalities remain before
Lewandowski is a Man Utd player in the summer. Sir Alex Ferguson is known for
his love of a prolific forward (read
Hughes, Cantona, Cole & Yorke, van Nistelrooy, van Persie et al). Losing
the title on goal difference to Man City seems to have punched the nitro on the
old Scot’s obsession with quality finishers. At about £15-£20m for a 23-year
old talent the calibre of Lewandowski, it might just make perfect sense to
complete the business that would surely see the beginning of Wayne Rooney’s
much touted evolution into an attacking midfielder.