Last night's match-winning performance against Athletic Bilbao reaffirmed Radamel Falcao's position at the top of the European pile. Falcao is now the Europa League's top scorer for the second time in a row, and has found the back of the net in both finals. Atletico's complicated financial situation combined with Falcao's stellar performances in Europe has some of the Premier League's biggest clubs lying in wait, ready to snatch him from Madrid this summer. talkSPORT take a look at which English club could land Falcao come the end of summer...
So why exactly would Atletico be willing to sell their star striker after less than a year? The answer lies in their huge debt problem. The Madrid side saw the entirety of the transfer fee received from Kun Aguero's move to City go straight to the Spanish tax-authorities last summer, and even after that they still owe around 250 million Euros. The severity of their debt explains the complexity of Falcao's transfer from Porto. Falcao cost Atleti 40 million Euros in theory, but in reality they are estimated to have paid only half of that. The rest was covered by a third-party investment fund, the majority of which was made up by Falcao's representative, 'super agent' Jorge Mendes. Should a major club like Chelsea or Manchester City move in with a big offer for Falcao this summer, Atletico's debt problem combined with the desire of Mendes to continue to make money out of his investment could see the Madrid side bidding farewell to their MVP.
Where he's likely to end up
Arguably the best finisher in the game, Falcao will have the pick of most clubs in Europe should he seek a move elsewhere. So which of the big English sides would want him or could even afford him? talkSPORT explains all...
City are thought to be the front-runners in the race to sign Falcao, and the reasons are clear. The possible departures of Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli this summer could free up room in the squad, as well as the funds to bring El Tigre to the Etihad. City already have a good relationship with Atletico following the transfer of Kun Aguero, and the guarantee of a sizeable fee from the Manchester side will be attractive to the cash-strapped Madrid outfit. Falcao is thought to be the perfect fit for City: his mobility and brilliant finishing fits the mould of strikers who have succeeded at the Etihad so far like Tevez or Aguero, in contrast to the failure of big-men Emmanuel Adebayor and Edin Dzeko.
Before his shock transfer to Atletico was announced, Chelsea looked certain to land Falcao last summer. The Colombian's former manager Andre Villas-Boas was seen as the key bargaining chip in bringing him to Stamford Bridge, but the deal never materialised. A lack of Champions League football next year would be a severe dent in Chelsea's renewed hope of signing the player, but the Blues have a couple of big bargaining chips that could help them win the war. Fernando Torres is still an idol at his former club, and a deal involving a swap looks attractive in principal. The problem is, Atletico need money more than they need a player, and Torres would cost them a fortune in wages should he return to the Vicente Calderon. The biggest deal breaker could be Atletico's current keeper, on-loan Chelsea man Thibaut Courtois. Atleti are desperate to keep Courtois but simply can't afford him, so a transfer involving Courtois going one way with Falcao going the other at a reduced cost isn't off the cards.
Falcao's ability to finish from anywhere would be a natural remedy to Liverpool's drought in front of goal this season, so it's understandable that Anfield legend Jan Molby has said the Colombian is the perfect fit for the Reds. The jury is still out on Liverpool's big-money move for Andy Carroll however, so whether the club would be willing to spend even more in the near future remains to be seen. Most importantly, Falcao will want Champions League football should he move, and that's something Liverpool simply can't deliver next year.
Following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, United are still facing a backlash over their reluctance to sign a big-name player. There's a feeling that this summer will have to be different, and though Eden Hazard has been hotly linked with a move to Manchester, it looks increasingly likely he'll be going to the blue side, not the red one. Falcao's agent has already done business with United in the past, brokering the deals involving Cristiano's arrival and departure from Old Trafford, as well as the transfers of Anderson and Nani, and the familiarity between the two parties could work in United's favour. United would need to spend big however, and if they're been priced out of a move for Hazard as has been suggested, it's difficult to see them coughing up even more for the Colombian.
Unless Manchester United go against form and make a shock bid, it looks like a two horse race between Chelsea and City for Radamel Falcao. Manchester City offer the most attractive prospect in terms of winning trophies, but Chelsea have a player on their books that Atletico need but can't afford. Thibaut Courtois could be a key piece in Falcao's transfer, but in the end the decision will be made by the man who City or Chelsea would really be paying for the Colombian's services: Jorge Mendes.
Check out this video of Falcao's incredible 35 goals this season
Do City have the edge over Chelsea in the race for Falcao, or will Manchester United make a statement and pay out? Let us know below...