When it comes to big names in football, almost all play in a big league or in the UEFA Champions League. If you're not starring in European competition or at least in the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga, you're probably close to anonymous. Occasionally a major international competition can raise the profile of a player too.
For Radamel Falcao, he doesn't have the big league, the Champions League or the World Cup under his belt. He's been playing in Portugal, in the Europa League and for Colombia, who haven't qualified for a World Cup since 1998. It's not strange that a lot of people don't realize how good he is, but they will very, very soon.
In the entire history of European club football, no one had ever scored more than 15 goals in a single continental competition. At least that was the case until last season when Falcao scored 17 times in the Europa League for F.C. Porto. The star striker set a new European record en route to the Portuguese club's tournament title in the same season they went undefeated in league play.
To break a European competition record is no small feat and Falcao is no small striker, at least in terms of production. He may be just 5'9'' but Falcao has produced at every level he's played. He scored 35 times in his last two years with River Plate before moving to Porto, where he's scored 73 times in 85 matches.
He's able to score a number of ways, with a ferocious shot from distance and a knack for getting free in the box to finish teammates' crosses. He's an acrobatic scorer as well, finishing overhead kicks, volleys and backheels.Add that to his ability to finish more traditional chances and Colombia has themselves a top striker.
The question now is whether or not Colombia's midfield will get Falcao the service he needs to shine. Los Cafeteros are solid at the back, but have struggled in the midfield. As good as Falcao is, he needs to get the ball in dangerous positions, something his teammates may not be able to do for him.
It won't be long before Falcao is a household name around the world. His Europa League exploits got him some recognition, but next season he will certainly be well-known. Some of the biggest clubs in Europe are chasing him and even if he stays with Porto, they are in the Champions League next season so come the fall, he'll be plastered all over the sports news. He could speed things up even quicker with a big Copa America though, making him a household name just a few months quicker. If he gets service, of course.
Name: Radamel Falcao Garcia Zarate
Team: F.C. Porto (Portugal, Premeira Division)
Chances Copa America increases transfer value: Likely. Porto has already lost their manager to Chelsea and there are rumors that Falcao will join Andre Villa-Boas at Stamford Bridge. Whether it be for Chelsea or somewhere else, Falcao's value can only go up in Argentina this summer.
Role in the team: Center forward in a 4-3-3 or up top in a 4-4-2