Thursday, 23 June 2011

Our New Players 2015 - 2016










  





Marco Amelia


Chelsea have completed the free transfer of former AC Milan and Italy goalkeeper Marco Amelia on a deal until the end of the season. 
Amelia, 33, has been signed after Thibaut Courtois damaged medial knee ligaments in September and is likely to be out until December.Capped nine times by his country, he is available for the Blues' next game at home to Aston Villa on 17 October.He was part of the Italy squad that won the 2006 World Cup.Amelia has spent his career playing in Italy and his former clubs also include Livorno, Palermo, Genoa and Perugia.Asmir Begovic, signed from Stoke City for a reported £8m in July, has played in Chelsea's last seven league and cup games.The Premier League champions are 16th in the table after losing four of their opening eight matches.
Marco Amelia, born 2 April 1982) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for English team Chelsea.
Developed at Roma, he spent most of his career at Livorno, where he made 181 appearances across all competitions, including playing and scoring in the 2006–07 UEFA Cup.
He won a Bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics, and earned 9 senior caps for Italy between 2005 and 2009. He was part of the squad that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and was also included for Euro 2008.


Early career

Born in Frascati, Province of Rome, Amelia grew up as part of the Roma youth system. In 2001 he left the giallorossi to join Serie C1 club Livorno on loan, playing only once in his first season with the Tuscan side; he was successively confirmed by Livorno in 2002–2003 season, for a transfer fee of 2.8 million, as part of the deal that acquired half of Giorgio Chiellini's registration rights for 3.1M, and promoted as regular by head coach Roberto Donadoni in the club's Serie B comeback campaign.

Amelia then spent two unremarkable loan spells at Lecce and Parma (both Serie A) before returning to Livorno in June 2004, becoming one of the team mainstays since then, and also having his chance to make a debut at European level in the 2006–07 UEFA Cup, where he even managed to score a goal, an injury time header against Partizan Belgrade.

Palermo

In July 2008, after Livorno were relegated to Serie B, Amelia agreed a permanent deal and contract to join Palermo, for 6 million; among the highlights of his season, Amelia was mostly remembered by fans for a penalty save to Ronaldinho in the 3–1 Palermo win over A.C. Milan, but also, in a more negative fashion, for suffering a goal from 45-meter distance by Giuseppe Mascara in the Derby di Sicilia against Catania ended in a shocking 0–4 home loss for his side.

Genoa

In August 2009, Amelia moved to Genoa as part of a player exchange deal, with Rubinho moving the other way, both players valued 5 million. Amelia was the first choice of the team except a few matches played his understudy Alessio Scarpi.

Milan

On 23 June 2010, and after the sale of goalkeeper Marco Storari to Juventus F.C., Amelia was signed by Milan on loan, in a deal which included the right to purchase the player at the end of the year-long loan.

On 24 May 2011, Milan took up the option to buy Amelia for €3.5 million in 3-year contract, despite Amelia only making a handful of appearances and being second choice to Christian Abbiati all season. Amelia made his debut in the 2011–2012 season in Serie A, on 28 November 2011, against Chievo, replacing Christian Abbiati who suffered a shoulder injury. He went on to make 14 appearances for Milan that season.
In the 2012-13 season, his third season at Milan, he continued to be second choice to Abbiati, making 11 first team appearances. Milan did not renew Amelia's contract at the end of 2013–14 season. Amelia and Daniele Bonera had a fight on 19 May, in the return journey from the opening of Milan's new headquarters, Casa Milan. Amelia denied any fight, saying that it was only an argument.

Later career

Amelia became a free agent on 1 July 2014. He spent few months with amateur side Rocca Priora (where he served as a player and honorary president) before returning to professional football on 9 February 2015.

On 8 October 2015, he moved abroad for the first time, signing for English team Chelsea on a free transfer, on a deal until the end of the season, with the team adding him as back-up due to injury to Thibaut Courtois.
Pedro Eliezer Rodríguez Ledesma 

Pedro Eliezer Rodríguez Ledesma ( born 28 July 1987), commonly known as Pedro or Pedrito, is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for English club Chelsea and the Spain national team as a forward or winger.
Pedro scored 99 goals in 321 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona from 2008 to 2015, winning 20 major honours including five La Ligatitles and the UEFA Champions League three times. During the 2009–10 season, he became the first player in history to score in six different official club competitions in one season.
Pedro represented Spain in two World Cups and Euro 2012, winning once in each tournament

Club career

Early years

Born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Pedro joined FC Barcelona's youth team at the age of 17, having arrived from local side CD San Isidro.

Barcelona

Pedro was a key player for FC Barcelona B, as the team achieved promotion from Tercera División, making 37 appearances and scoring seven goals. On 12 January 2008 he made his debut for the first team, playing one minute in a 4–0 home win against Real Murcia, but would only amass seven more in his first two seasons combined.

2008–09 season

Pedro was a part of the first team's 2008–09 pre-season, and showed early promise, scoring against Hibernian and the New York Red Bulls respectively. On 13 August, he started in a 4–0 win against Wisła Kraków for the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. His first match on the group stage of that competition was on 16 September, when he replaced Thierry Henryin a 3–1 home win over Sporting Clube de Portugal.
In Barcelona's treble-winning season in 2008–09 Pedro eventually totalled 14 matches, also appearing in La Liga against Getafe CF, Valencia CF, Real Valladolid and CA Osasuna (0–1 home loss, with Barcelona already crowned champions), totalling 365 minutes. In the campaign's Copa del Rey he played against Benidorm CF and Atlético Madrid, on both occasions for Lionel Messi; in the Champions League final, he played the last minute in the place of Andrés Iniesta.

2009–10 season

In 2009–10, manager Pep Guardiola confirmed that Pedro would be definitely promoted to Barcelona's first team, and he responded with a breakthrough year, during which he became the first player to score in six different club competitions during a single season and in the same year. On 16 August, after assisting Xavi with the first goal, he scored his first competitive goal for the first team in the 67th minute, helping to ensure a 2–1 victory over Athletic Bilbaoin San Mamés for the domestic Supercup. Later that week he signed his professional contract, running until June 2014 with a buyout clause set at £60 million in the 2009 UEFA Super Cup against FC Shakhtar Donetsk, he came on as a substitute for Zlatan Ibrahimović in the 80th minute, and went on to net the only goal of the match in extra time.
On 28 September Pedro scored his first goal in the Champions League, after replacing Iniesta at half-time in a 2–0 win against FC Dynamo Kyiv. He continued his hot streak and netted his first in the league, against UD Almería, with a brilliant strike that sealed the 1–0 home triumph; the following month he grabbed a brace in the first leg of the Spanish Cup round-of-32 match at Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa, for a 2–0 win (he also scored in the second leg, a 5–0 home rout).
More and more established in Barcelona's starting lineups, Pedro went on to score another brace in the league, in a 4–2 win against RCD Mallorca. He would continue his scoring touch in the Champions League, netting one of two against Inter Milan.
On 16 December, Pedro scored a goal in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup against Atlante FC, in 3–1 win. In doing so, he became the first player ever to score in six different club competitions in one season – the three domestic tournaments, the UEFA Champions League and Super Cup and the Club World Cup. He was later named World Player of the Week by Goal.com after his performances against RCD Espanyol, Atlante and Estudiantes de La Plata of Argentina, respectively.
In an emotional return to his hometown of CD Tenerife, on 10 January 2010, Pedro came on as a 76th-minute substitute, later helping to Ezequiel Luna's own goal in a 5–0 win – out of respect, he chose not to celebrate. On 10 April he netted the second goal in a 2–0 win against Real Madrid, in his first appearance in El Clásico.
On 14 April, in a league match against Deportivo de La Coruña, opposing goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia attempted to clear the ball from the top of the 16-yard box, and instead kicked the ball right to Pedro, who shot at goal from 40 yards with his left foot and scored, giving Barça a 2–0 lead in an eventual 3–0 win. He also found the net in a 3–1 defeat in the first leg of Champions League semi-finals, against Inter at the San Siro.
In the last three league matches Pedro scored for Barcelona, with the Catalans eventually renewing their league supremacy: against Tenerife again (4–1 win), the 3–2 winner at Sevilla FC and against Valladolid (4–0). He completed the 2009–10 season with 53 appearances in all competitions and 23 goals, and, on 9 June, signed a new five-year deal with Barcelona.

2010–11 season

Pedro began the 2010–11 campaign firmly established in Barcelona's starting XI. On 29 November 2010, he scored the second goal in a 5–0 home win against Real Madrid, with Barça climbing to the first position in the league. The following month he netted twice at Espanyol in the local derby, in a 5–1 success.
On 20 April 2011, Pedro scored against Real Madrid in the second half of the season's Spanish Cup final, but his goal was disallowed for offside, in an eventual 0–1 extra time loss. On 3 May, against the same opponent, in the Champions League semifinals second leg, he found Iker Casillas' net in a 1–1 home draw (3–1 aggregate win), for his 21st official goal of the campaign; in the Champions League final, he opened the score against Manchester United, in an eventual 3–1 win.

2011–12 season

On 5 July 2011 Pedro extended his contract by one year, until 2016. His buyout clause was raised from €90m to €150m. After the purchase of Alexis Sánchez and the emergence of youth players like Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello, he featured less during 2011–12, also being afflicted with some injuries; he did finish the season with 13 official goals, scoring a brace in the campaign's domestic cup final, a 3–0 win against Athletic Bilbao.

2013–14 season

On 21 September 2013, Pedro scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 success at Rayo Vallecano. On 22 December, in another away fixture, he added another three – all in the first half and only nine minutes – to help Barcelona come from behind 0–2 and eventually win 5–2 over Getafe.

2014–15 season

On 16 December 2014, Pedro scored another hat-trick, this time in second leg of Round of 32 in Copa del Rey against Huesca, with Barcelona who recorded a 8–1 victory at Camp Nou.
On 4 June 2015, Barcelona official website announced Pedro has renewed contract until 30 June 2019. His buyout clause will remain at 150 million euros.
On 6 June 2015, Pedro appeared as an added-time substitute for Barça in the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final, as the club won its fifth European Cup by beating Juventus at Berlin's Olympiastadion. This made Barcelona the first club in history to win the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and European Cup twice. Pedro, Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves are the only players to have been a part of both treble-winning teams.

2015–16 season

As an extra-time substitute, Pedro scored the winning goal as Barcelona won the 2015 UEFA Super Cup 5–4 against Sevilla in Tbilisi; it was his second winner in a Super Cup, and came in the 115th minute like its predecessor.

Chelsea

On 20 August 2015, after interest from Manchester United, Pedro joined Premier League champions Chelsea on a four-year contract for £19 million (€26.6m), potentially rising to £21.4 million (€30m) depending on performances.

International career

On 20 May 2010, Pedro was included by Vicente del Bosque in Spain's 23-man squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On the 29th he made his debut in a 3–2 friendly win against Saudi Arabia, and earned his second cap shortly after, as a 58th-minute substitute in a 1–0 win against South Korea.
On 8 June 2010, in the last exhibition game prior to the finals in South Africa, with Poland, Pedro scored his first international goal, and also assisted Fernando Torres in a 6–0 victory. In the final stages, he appeared in five matches (three as a late substitute): on 7 July, in the semi-final against Germany, he started in place of Torres, who had been performing poorly in earlier matches. In the 82nd minute, with Spain leading 1–0, he attempted to score a goal himself rather than set up an unmarked Torres, although he performed well in the game. Despite this error, he was selected to start in the final, with the national team winning 1–0 against the Netherlands; at the hour-mark, he was replaced by Jesús Navas.
Pedro scored the first hat-trick of his professional career on 12 October 2012, netting after a Jordi Alba strike in an eventual 4–0 away win over Belarus for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Asmir Begovic


Asmir Begović (born 20 June 1987) is a Bosnian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for English club Chelsea and the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team.
Aged four, Begović and his family emigrated from their war-torn home of Trebinje to Kirchhausen, a borough of Heilbronn, near Stuttgart in Germany. Begović developed a keen interest in football and played with the local youth club before the Begović family moved again this time to Edmonton, Canada. After playing with Minor League side Southwest Sting he earned a call up to the Canada U-17 squad. In the summer of 2003 he signed for English club Portsmouth after impressing on trial. After playing with Portsmouth's youth team for two years he moved on loan to Belgian side La Louvière in 2005.
After gaining a UK Visa in the summer of 2006 he was able to get match experience in the Football League playing for Macclesfield Town, Bournemouth, Yeovil Town and Ipswich Town. He finally made his Premier League debut for Portsmouth in May 2009 and took over from David James in 2009–10. However Portsmouth's financial problems led him to be sold to Stoke City in January 2010 for a fee of £3.25 million. He began as second choice to the veteran Thomas Sørensen before becoming a regular in the side in 2010–11 and 2011–12. In 2012–13 he played in every league match and his performances saw him win the Player of the Year award. In November 2013 Begović became the fifth goalkeeper to score a goal in the Premier League, scoring from 97.5 yards against Southampton after 13 seconds. He joined Chelsea in July 2015.
Begović represented Canada at youth level playing for them at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup before deciding to change his allegiance to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2009. He soon established himself as Bosnia's number one and helped them reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Club career

Early career

Begović was born in Trebinje, Yugoslavia later to become part of what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina to a Bosniak family. His father, Amir, was also a goalkeeper who played for FK Leotar and FK Iskra Stolac whilst his mother, Ajnija, hails from Stolac. The Begović family fled war-torn Bosnia for Germany when Asmir was four years old, where he began to play organised football with local youth club FC Kirchhausen in Heilbronn. When he was 10, his family moved to Edmonton in Canada.

Begović attended the St. Francis Xavier High School where he played for their academy. He also played Minor League Soccer with the Southwest Sting Soccer Club which earned him a call up to the Canada U17 squad. In 2003 he earned a trial with Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur and his representatives paid for him to fly over to England. After two days with Portsmouth coaches David Hurst and Mark O'Connor were suitably impressed and offered Begović a contract before his trial at Tottenham could begin.

Portsmouth

Begović signed a youth contract with Portsmouth in the summer of 2003 and due to him not having a European Union passport he spent two years on an education visa which prevented him from featuring in matches which involved money being taken on the gate. After playing for the youth team he then spent time on loan at La Louviere in Belgium in 2005 where he played twice in the Belgian top flight. Begović got his UK visa in the summer of 2006 which allowed him to sign on loan for Macclesfield Town in the 2006–07 season, making his Football League debut in a 1–1 draw at Stockport County on 25 November as an 80th minute substitute, after injury to first choice goalkeeper Jonny Brain. His loan spell was cut short, however, as he sustained a knee injury after making just three appearances. In August 2007, Begović was loaned to Bournemouth in League One in a deal lasting until January 2008. He was recalled back from Bournemouth on 11 October 2007. On 8 December 2007, Begović was named in Portsmouth's 16-man matchday squad for the first time in a Premier League game in a match against Aston Villa as a substitute.

In March 2008, he signed for Yeovil Town on loan for a month with Portsmouth having the right to recall him back when they so desired. On 29 March Begović made his debut for Yeovil, keeping a clean sheet against Bristol Rovers. He was subsequently recalled after making two appearances despite Yeovil trying to re-sign him on an emergency loan. The "Glovers" manager Russell Slade revealed in June 2008 that he wanted to sign Begović on loan again after Steve Mildenhall joined Southend United. The move was delayed however due to his grandfather passing away. He rejoined Yeovil on loan, this time for three months in August 2008. He made 14 league appearances, keeping three clean sheets in a struggling Yeovil side.
Begović made his Portsmouth debut against Sunderland in their 3–1 win on 18 May 2009. Following his Premier League debut for Pompey Begović expressed his delight. "It was fantastic, to make your first Premier League appearance is something I've looked forward to for a long long time." He joined Championship team Ipswich Town on loan until 16 January 2010 in October. On 23 November Begović was recalled to Portsmouth due to David James being injured, ending his Ipswich Town loan after having played six matches. On his return to Fratton Park he went on to play 15 first team matches during the 2009–10 season.

Stoke City

On 1 February 2010, Begović signed a four-and-a-half-year contract at Stoke City for a fee of £3.25 million. Following the signing manager Tony Pulis revealed that he had been tracking Begović for a while. "We have been tracking Asmir for some time and we believe that potentially he is the best young keeper in the country". Begović had also held talks with Tottenham Hotspur prior to joining Stoke, but opted for the "Potters" due to "sporting reasons". He later revealed his relief at leaving Portsmouth following their financial turmoil during the 2009–10 season. In a bizarre turn of events, it was revealed that Portsmouth in fact owe Tottenham money for Begović, despite him turning them down to play for Stoke, as Tottenham had already paid Portsmouth an instalment on the transfer. Portsmouth were ordered to pay Tottenham £1million by the Premier League over the aborted transfer as Spurs had already made an initial payment for both Begović and Younès Kaboul.

Begović made his debut for Stoke against Chelsea on 25 April 2010, replacing the injured Thomas Sørensen in the 35th minute, where he conceded five goals. He kept his first clean sheet for City in a 0–0 draw with Everton on 1 May 2010. He also played in the last two games of the 2009–10 season against Fulham and Manchester United. At the start of the 2010–11 season Begović was handed the number one jersey by manager Tony Pulis. Begović allegedly refused to play in a League Cup match against Shrewsbury Town, a decision which Pulis said was "totally disrespectful". Begović on the other hand, denied that he had refused to play.
Despite this Begović played his first match of the season in the next round of the League Cup against Fulham and then West Ham United. He made his first league appearance on 30 October against Everton replacing the injured Sørensen. Following this Begović took over from Sørensen as City's first choice 'keeper, he also 'made peace' with Tony Pulis with his absence from the Shrewsbury match. After a narrow defeat at Arsenal in February 2011 Begović believes that Stoke are developing well.[37] The following week against West Ham, Begović made an error gifting a goal to Demba Ba. Begović missed out on a FA Cup Final with second choice 'keeper Sørensen being preferred to play in cup matches.
Begović started the 2011–12 season as first choice 'keeper and earned praise from Tony Pulis after he kept five clean sheets in six matches including a fine display against Liverpool on 11 September. However, Begović then conceded eighteen goals in the next seven matches, including a woeful 5–0 defeat by Bolton Wanderers a performance which led him to apologise to the supporters for his display. Following the Bolton match he was dropped in favour of Sørensen. Begović signed a new four-and-a-half year contract extension with Stoke in December 2011 keeping him at the club until 2016. He regained number 1 spot in March 2012. Begović continued as City's number one stopper in 2012–13 and began the season in fine form conceding just 12 goals in the opening 15 matches. Despite Stoke having a poor second half to the season, Begović remained in decent enough form and won the Player of the Year Award.
Begović remained first choice 'keeper going into the 2013–14 season under new manager Mark Hughes and produced a man of the matchperformance on the opening day against Liverpool. On 2 November 2013, Begović scored after 13 seconds against Southampton at a distance of 97.5 yards, after his long kick downfield deceived Artur Boruc. His goal against earned him a place in the 2015 Guinness World Records for the 'longest goal scored in football'.
Begović missed his first League match for almost two years at Newcastle United on 26 December after he broke his finger in a training session which ruled him out for five weeks. He returned to the starting line-up against Chelsea on 26 January 2014. Begović played 33 times for Stoke in 2013–14 as the team finished in 9th position.
Begović kept his 50th clean sheet for Stoke on 4 March 2015 in a 2–0 victory over Everton. Begović kept his place as number one 'keeper in 2014–15 playing in 36 matches as Stoke finished the season again in ninth position and they ended the campaign with a 6–1 victory against Liverpool. He was dropped by Mark Hughes for three matches in May after making a mistake against Sunderland. This prompted media speculation about his future at the club. Indeed Begović departed the Britannia Stadium in July 2015, in total he spent six-and-a-half seasons at Stoke making 172 appearances.

Chelsea

On 13 July 2015, Chelsea signed Begović on a four-year deal for a fee of £8 million.

International career

Canada

Begović was the starting goalkeeper for Canada in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He made several difficult saves for his team in a 3–0 loss to Chile and let in one goal against Austria. Late in the third match of the tournament, after allowing two goals, Begović came out of his area to play a long ball from a Congo defender. The ball took a high bounce off the wet pitch, forcing him to use his hands to prevent it from going over his head. He was shown a straight red card, and midfielder Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault was forced to play in goal, as Canada had used up its three substitutes.

On 14 August 2007, 20-year-old Begović received his first call-up to the senior Canada squad for the friendly match with Iceland, but didn't see any action on the pitch. In November 2008, he accepted another call for Canada's 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier versus Jamaica, but again didn't get any playing time as Lars Hirschfeld was the preferred option in goal.
Players with dual nationality, like Begović, who had already played for a country's national team at youth level, were not allowed to switch nationalities after they turned 21, but on June 3, 2009 FIFA removed the age limit. In late June 2009, he spoke with Bosnian head coach Miroslav Blažević about the possibility of making his debut for the Bosnian national football team. Quotes in the Bosnian media seemed to indicate Begović's intent to play for the country of his birth. Begović missed the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup for Canada saying Portsmouth wanted him to spend the whole pre-season with the club. On 12 July 2009 on Full-Time: Vancouver's Soccer Show on the TEAM 1040 radio in Canada he indicated his desire to continue with the Canadian national team. He suggested that comments he had made to Bosnia's head coach had been misinterpreted due to poor translation. In the same interview, Begović also said, "I've played for Canada for a long time. There's no decision, I don’t want to switch… but there is a state of uncertainty with Canada soccer (next coach, etc). Get things in place and I'm happy to stay with Canada, that's where I see my future… I've been approached by Bosnia. There were talks… but I have no intention on playing for Bosnia."

Bosnia and Herzegovina

However, less than two months later, Begović changed his mind and on 21 August 2009 accepted a call up for two Bosnian 2010 World Cup qualifiers: away at Armenia on 5 September 2009, and four days later versus Turkey at home in Zenica. During the pre-match preparations, Begović gave an interview to the Bosnian web portal, stating among other things: "I was born in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina is my homeland and I wouldn't be disappointed even if I don't get a chance to play right away". He did not play in either match. However, his debut for the national team finally came in the next qualifier against Estonia. He came on to replace Kenan Hasagić in the 92nd minute of the match, in which Bosnia won the match with a final score of 2–0.

On 3 March he played a significant role in a match for the first time as he got to play the second half in Bosnia's friendly match against Ghana. Bosnia won the match 2–1 and Begović didn't concede any goals. He received his first full cap against Sweden in May 2010. Bosnia lost the match 4–2, but Begović was not responsible for any of the goals according to the Bosnian media, as they blamed Bosnia's defence for the goals. He caused controversy after he pulled out of Bosnia's friendlies against Slovakia and Mexico.
Since August 2012, Begović has been the first choice goalkeeper for the national team. On 27 May 2013, Begović has been voted the 2012 Bosnian Footballer of the Year by the Bosnian Sport Writers' Jury. On 16 October 2013 Bosnia defeated Lithuania 1–0 to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, their first major tournament.

Personal life

On 18 June 2011, Begović married his American wife, Nicolle, with whom he has a daughter, Taylor. In April 2011 he joined FC Edmonton's charity 'Kicks for Kids Program'. Begović was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and moved to Germany at the age of four. Growing up in Germany, Begović supported Bayern Munich and cites goalkeeping great Oliver Kahn as his inspiration. He also attended matches at his local club VfB StuttgartAlong with his native Bosnian, Begović is fluent in 3 additional languages: German, English and French. In October 2013 he set up his own charity, the Asmir Begović Foundation.


Radamel Falcao


Radamel Falcao García Zárate Born 10 February 1986, also known as Radamel FalcaoFalcao García or simply as Falcao, is a Colombian professional footballer who plays as a striker for English club Chelsea, on loan from French club Monaco, and the Colombia national team. He is sometimes nicknamed El Tigre (Spanish for The Tiger) and King of the Europa League.
Falcao is commonly cited as one of the best strikers in the world. He surpassed Jürgen Klinsmann's record of 15 goals (17) in a single annual club football European competition UEFA Champions League/UEFA Europa League campaign in 2011. He also played a key role in guiding FC Porto to a second Europa League title, as well as finishing undefeated in the 2010–11 Primeira Liga season. In July 2011, Falcao received the Portuguese Golden Ball award, becoming the first Colombian to do so. He came fifth in the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or and was named in the FIFA XI for 2012.
In his first three seasons in European football, Falcao scored over 100 goals. Falcao had played a key role in Atlético Madrid's 12-match winning streak in a single Europa League season, making it the first team to do so. He also became the top goal scorer in both tournaments. Falcao won his first UEFA Super Cup in 2012, becoming the first player in history to score a hat trick in the contest since its reform in 1998. On 9 December 2012, Falcao scored five goals in one game in a 6–0 home victory against Deportivo de La Coruña. In the 2013 Copa del Rey Final, Falcao played a crucial part in Atlético Madrid's victory over Real Madrid, ending the 14-year unbeaten streak which Real Madrid had held in matches against Atlético prior to the final.
Falcao made his full international debut for Colombia in 2007 and has since earned over 50 caps and scored 25 goals for the team, making him their top scorer of all time. He represented the country at the 2011 Copa América, but missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup through injury.

Club career

Lanceros

Falcao made his debut for Lanceros Boyacá in the Colombian Categoría Primera B (second tier) on 28 August 1999 at the age of 13 years and 199 days, thus becoming the youngest debutant at that level of Colombian professional football. In 2000, Lanceros' coach, Hernán Pacheco, began to consider the 14-year-old more seriously; Falcao played seven matches that year. On 25 July, at the Estadio Olímpico del Sol at Sogamoso, he scored his first and only goal for the club, to seal a 2–0 win against Club El Cóndor that took Lanceros off the bottom of the table. In his two years with the club, he played eight matches and scored once.

River Plate

After training with Millonarios, who did not take up their option to purchase the player, Falcao was sold to River Plate of Argentina in February 2001 for a $500,000 fee. He began his River career in the youth team, playing in the eighth division of Argentine football. River coach Leonardo Astrada gave Falcao his professional debut in the 2005 Torneo Clausura in a game that the club lost 2–1 to Gimnasia.

Falcao became a regular in the first team during the 2005 Torneo Apertura. He scored twice in a match for the first time in Argentina, on 2 October in a game against Independiente that finished as a 3–1 win for River. He repeated the feat twice more during the Apertura: against Lanús, his brace contributed to a 4–1 home win, and against San Lorenzo, River won 5–1. This brought his total for the competition to seven from as many games under the management of Reinaldo Merlo, who gave Falcao the trust he needed to establish himself in the team.
In the match against San Lorenzo in November, Falcao injured the ligaments of his right knee and missed the remainder of the Apertura; then, during pre-season training in January 2006, he sustained more serious damage to the same knee, which required surgery and was expected to keep him out for at least six months. He returned to the field in September, soon after the start of the 2006 Torneo Apertura, in which he made 12 appearances, mainly as a substitute; he scored just once, to seal a 2–0 win against Rosario Central that took River clear at the top of the table. A few days earlier he made his debut in CONMEBOL competition, in the last eight of the 2006 Copa Sudamericana against Atlético Paranaense of Brazil. He was replaced at half-time, and the match finished 2–2, so River were eliminated on aggregate, having lost the home leg 1–0.
He was sent off in his only outing in the 2007 Copa Libertadores, against Colo-Colo in February 2007. Domestically, he made little impression on the 2007 Torneo Clausura. He scored in only one of the eight games he played: River's first two goals as they beat Racing Club 4–2 away from home. Falcao scored his first professional hat-trick on 28 September 2007, as River made a historic comeback against Botafogo to progress in the 2007 Sudamericana. The following week, he scored his first goal in a Superclásico, the first of River's goals as they beat Boca Juniors 2–0.
River were reported to have rejected a $15 million offer from Milan for Falcao in early 2008, as well as bids from clubs including Aston Villa and Fluminense. He was a key player as Diego Simeoneled River to the 2008 Torneo Clausura championship, his first domestic title, and his performances meant he was linked with moves to a variety of clubs. Nevertheless, he remained with River as they suffered the worst campaign in their history, finishing bottom of the 2008 Torneo Apertura.
In 2009, River Plate had a difficult start: they were eliminated in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores 2009 and won few games at the beginning of the 2009 Torneo Clausura. Falcao retained his eye for goal, and was instrumental in Nestor Gorosito's plans, having matured as a striker over the previous two years, and finished as top scorer with 43 goals.

Porto

2009–10 season 

Falcao moved to Europe when he joined Portuguese club FC Porto on 15 July 2009 for a fee of €3.93 million for 60% economic rights after Porto sold striker Lisandro López to Olympique Lyonnais. In the transaction, Porto also sold Mario Bolatti for €1.5 million to a third party owner, Natland Financier B.V., in exchange for 35% economic rights of Falcao. Curiously, Falcao was about to sign for Porto rivals Benfica days before, but the reluctance of its leaders to pay an additional €700,000 requested by Falcao dictated the end of negotiations; days later, Falcao joined Porto. He made his debut against Paços de Ferreira on the opening day of the season and scored an important goal to earn the team a draw. He went on to score three goals in as many games, making him one of the few to score four goals in the first four matchdays in the Portuguese league.

On 15 September, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 1–0 away defeat against Chelsea. Falcao would later score a brilliant header to defeat rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal on the sixth matchday, giving his team a 1–0 home victory. Four days later, on 30 September, he scored his first Champions League goal in a group stage win over Atlético Madrid. On 2 February 2010, Falcao scored twice in a Portuguese Cup quarter-finals victory against rivals Sporting CP. In the same month, he scored the victory goal against Arsenal in a UEFA Champions League round of 16 match, being his fourth goal in the tournament. On 3 April, Falcao scored a brace against Marítimo, and turned into the highest goalscorer of the Portuguese League with 20 goals, but he would finish the season as the second-highest league scorer with 25 goals, behind only Benfica's Óscar Cardozo, who had 26. He scored another goal in his last game of the season, the Portuguese Cup final, where Porto won 2–1 against Grupo Desportivo Chaves. He wrapped up the campaign with a career-high 34 goals in all competitions.

2010–11 season 

Falcao made an impressive start to the 2010–11 season, scoring a goal in the 2010 Portuguese SuperCup 2–0 victory over Benfica. He scored his first two league goals on the second matchday of the season against Beira-Mar on 22 August 2010. On 7 November, he scored twice (one of them an impressive backheel goal) in a 5–0 victory against the defending champions Benfica, and later, on 2 December, Falcao scored his first hat-trick for Porto against Rapid Wien during a UEFA Europa League clash, becoming the top goal scorer of the competition with 17 goals. On 7 April 2011, Falcao scored another hat-trick in the quarter-final of the Europa League against Russian side Spartak Moscow, which was won by the Portuguese team by a score of 5–1, to bring his goal tally in the tournament to 10.

In the 2010–11 season, Porto won the league title in round 25 of the league against rivals and defending champions Benfica at the Estádio da Luz. He played a key role in that match, winning his team a penalty when the match was tied at 1–1; the penalty was scored by teammate Hulk. In the match against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League, Falcao scored a hat-trick and provided an assist in a 5–1 win. In the second leg, he scored another goal and provided another assist that took Porto to the tournament's semi-final stage. He further added to his position as top scorer in the competition by scoring four goals in the semi-final first leg against Villarreal CF, a game which finished 5–1 in favour of Porto.
In the UEFA Europa League final against domestic rivals Braga, Falcao scored the only goal of the game with a header after a cross from Fredy Guarín, giving the title to Porto. He set a new goalscoring record of 17 goals in 14 games during the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League, surpassing Jürgen Klinsmann's previous record of 15 goals.
In July 2011, he extended his contract with an added €45 million buy-out clause. Porto paid a commission of €6,585,150 to extend the contract.

Atlético Madrid

2011–12 season On 18 August 2011, Porto announced they had agreed a fee with Atlético Madrid for the transfer of Falcao. The transfer fee was €40 million with the fee potentially rising by €10 million based on performance-based clauses, making him the most expensive player in the club's history. Falcao made his Atlético debut on 10 September away to Valencia CF, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–0 defeat. On 3 November, Falcao netted a goal in Atlético's 4–0 triumph over Udinese — the goal meant that Falcao had scored 19 goals in his last 18 Europa League games.

Falcao's second hat-trick in La Liga came on 21 January 2012, when he led his team to a 4–0 victory against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta Stadium. On 16 February, Falcao scored twice and assisted a goal in an away game against Lazio to progress to the Round of 16 in the Europa League. In the second leg of Atlético's Round of 16 clash against Turkish club Beşiktaş, Falcao scored one goal and provided another in a 3–0 victory, advancing 6–1 on aggregate. On 21 March, Falcao netted a second half double to propel his side to a 2–1 victory over Athletic Bilbao and keep Atlético in the race for European places. Falcao scored another goal sealing a 3–0 victory over Getafe CF. In both legs of the Europa League quarter-final tie versus Hannover 96, Falcao managed to score a goal for each leg, helping Atlético seal a 4–2 aggregate victory and increasing his goal tally to eight in the competition.
Falcao played his first Madrid Derby against Real Madrid on 11 April 2012. He had missed the first match at the Santiago Bernabéu due to injury, and scored Atlético's only goal as his side fell 4–1 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. He scored his 22nd goal of the season against Rayo Vallecano in a crucial 1–0 victory for Atlético Madrid. For the first leg of the 2011–12 Europa league semifinals against Valencia CF, Falcao scored a double in a 4–2 victory while making Atlético the first team to win 10 consecutive matches in a single Europa League season. Falcao added to his Europa League tally in the final against fellow La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, netting Atlético's opening two goals in a 3–0 triumph at the Arena Națională in Bucharest on 9 May 2012. In doing so, Falcao not only became the top goal scorer in a Europa league season again but became the first player in history to win two consecutive Europa League titles with two different teams. In all competitions, Falcao had scored a record of 36 goals for Atlético Madrid, the highest amount by any player in a first season playing for the club.

2012–13 season

Falcao scored two hat-tricks at the start of the 2012–13 season; first in the La Liga game against 2012 Europa League finalists Athletic Bilbao, and the second in the defeat of Chelsea, winning the 2012 UEFA Super Cup by a score of 4–1, on 31 August 2012. At the same time, Falcao became the first player in history to score a hat trick in a UEFA Super Cup final in its current format; the original format was two legged before turning into a single legged final format in 1998. On 16 September, Falcao scored what turned out to be the decisive goal from the penalty spot in a 4–3 win over Rayo Vallecano, and did the same a week later against Real Valladolid, before going off at half-time in order to avoid a possible groin injury. Falcao scored a double in a 4–2 away victory over Real Betis, converting a cross for the first and then converting a penalty, putting him to the top of the goal scoring charts in La Liga with seven goals.

Falcao scored a wonderful header against Málaga CF and forced Málaga defender Weligton to score an own goal, pushing Atlético to victory in the final minute. He scored once again in the away fixture to Real Sociedad after the international break, this time with a rare free-kick — his first professional free kick-goal — in the 90th minute, winning the match 1–0. In a game against Sevilla FC, Falcao scored a penalty and assisted another goal in a 4–0 victory; the strike marked his 50th goal for Atlético Madrid. In the match against Deportivo de La Coruña on 9 December, Falcao scored an astonishing five goals, becoming the first player in La Liga in over a decade to net five goals in a game. For his last goal of the 2012 calendar year, Falcao scored the opening goal against Spanish club Barcelona in a 4–1 loss at the Camp Nou.
Falcao missed the first La Liga match of 2013 due to an injury but returned in the second match against Real Zaragoza, where he scored a penalty. It was noted that Falcao struggled to maintain form during the match. In the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against Real Betis, Falcao scored a header in a 2–0 victory. Falcao returned on 3 February after being injured for three weeks where he failed to make a comeback on his return against Real Betis in a 1–0 victory. In a 2–1 loss against Rayo Vallecano, Falcao scored in the 94th minute on the day of his birthday. Falcao finally played his first match of the 2012–13 Europa League in a 2–0 lost against Rubin Kazan. Falcao scored against Real Valladolid in a 3–0 victory. In the second leg against Kazan of the Europa league, Falcao scored a late goal but it was not enough to save Atlético from being knocked out on a 2–1 aggregate. Falcao scored a penalty in a 1–0 victory against Espanyol, Altetico was down to 10 men at this time.
In the Copa de Rey Semi-finals, Falcao scored against Sevilla FC in a 2–2 draw. Although Atlético advanced to the finals on a 4–3 aggregate as well as scoring twice before Sevilla. In the league match against Valencia CF, Valencia had scored a goal in the 4th minute stunning the home fans. However, Falcao responded with a goal of his own less than a minute later. The game however only ended 1–1. Falcao scored a double against Granada CF in a comfortable 5–0 victory. The second goal marked Falcao's 200th career goal (counting both club and nation). In an away match against Sevilla, Falcao scored the only goal in a 0–1 victory. In the Madrid Derby against Real Madrid, Falcao scored Atlético's only goal once more in a 1–2 home lost. Falcao scored the last goal for Atlético in a 3–1 away victory over Celta de Vigo. The win also assured Atlético Madrid to appear in the UEFA Champions League for next season for the first time in four years. In Falcao's last match against Barcelona for the 2012–13 season, Falcao scored yet another goal in another 2–1 home lost. This made Falcao one of the few players to consecutive score against them in three out of four La Liga appearances between the current and last season.
In the 2013 Copa del Rey Final, Atlético Madrid were given one final chance of the season to beat their arch-rivals Real Madrid for the first time in 14 years. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the game with a header in the 14th minute. In the 35th minute, Falcao had a chance to run forward while surrounded by Real players but did something different: after catching the ball, he pulled it backwards where two Real Madrid players bumped into one another, leaving just three surrounding him. He cut to the right side and delivered a pass to Diego Costa who shot low equalizing moments later. In extra time, Miranda scored the winning goal with a header from a corner in the 98th minute. This allowed Atlético to win the cup and defeat their arch rivals for the first time in 14 years. This is also Falcao's first domestic title with Atlético.

Monaco

On 31 May 2013, Atlético Madrid general manager Miguel Ángel Gil Marín announced that the club would not stand in the way if Falcao decided to leave in the next summer transfer window. On 31 May 2013, AS Monaco FC announced that they had reached an agreement with Atlético Madrid for a transfer. Falcao signed a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee,]believed to be around €60 million, with his net annual salary at AS Monaco being reported to be around €18.2 million. Despite the Colombian showing optimism about his Monaco future, Falcao gave an emotional farewell to Atlético during a press interview, expressing his enjoyment with the club and considering it to be "the best time of his career". It is commonly believed that his third-party ownership had a stronger influence on his decision. On an interesting note, Falcao went on to say that part of his reason for choosing Monaco was to follow the footsteps of his idol, Thierry Henry. Monaco sporting director Vadim Vasilyev said that the club hoped to build a team around Falcao.

2013–14 season

Falcao made his Ligue 1 debut in the first match against Girondins de Bordeaux, where he managed to score in the 88th minute, sealing a 2–0 victory. Against Montpellier HSC, Falcao opened the scoring board with a penalty kick. Monaco went on to win the game 4–1. In a match against Marseille, Falcao scored the equalizer in a 2–1 victory. In a match against FC Lorient, Falcao got an early penalty kick, scoring the winning goal in a 1–0 victory while still having issues to adapt to the new team of Monaco. Falcao managed to equalize with a diving header in a tough away match against French champions Paris Saint-Germain. The game would later end 1–1 and keep Monaco on top of the league table. Days later, Falcao scored a double against Bastia in a 3–0 victory. This also brought his goal tally to seven and making him top goal scorer in the Ligue 1.

Falcao ended his four-game goal drought for Monaco in a 2–1 win over Olympique Lyon, scoring with an impressive chip. In a match against Evian Thonon Gaillard, Falcao scored the equalizer in a 1–1 draw. On 27 November, it was reported that Falcao failed to fully recover from a thigh injury prior to his last match for the club, and he was forced to miss the next four league matches. Falcao made his return after being brought on within the second half against Valenciennes, where he missed a penalty kick and Monaco lost 2–1.
Falcao started 2014 by making his Coupe de France debut in a match against Vannes OC, where he both assisted and scored a goal in a 3–2 victory.Falcao's second goal of the month came in the Coupe de France once more, where he scored a goal before being substituted due to an injury in the first half against Monts d'Or Azergues Foot.
On 23 January, it was confirmed that Falcao had suffered a knee injury and would miss the 2014 FIFA World Cup, while effectively ending his 2013–14 season entirely. Falcao went on to say that he was confident in a speedy recovery. Falcao also went on to say that he wanted to play in the match himself, and that Claudio Ranieri did not force him to.

2014–15 season

Falcao's full recovery was confirmed in mid July, where he would play regularly in pre-season matches for Monaco after 6 months sidelined. He returned on the field at the Emirates Cup coming on as a substitute for Dimitar Berbatov in the 72nd minute as Monaco drew 2–2 against Valencia. The next day he played the first hour of the match against Arsenal, and scored the only goal of the game in the 36th minute.

On 10 August, in his first competitive match since his injury, Falcao came on for Lucas Ocampos after 59 minutes and scored a penalty, yet Monaco lost 2–1 at home to Lorient. Two weeks later, he started away to Nantes and scored the only goal of the game, heading in Layvin Kurzawa's cross before half time for the club's first points of the season. Amidst rumours of a transfer, Falcao was not included in Monaco's next match against Lille, and watched from the stands next to owner Vadim Vasilyev.

Manchester United

On 1 September 2014, Manchester United agreed to sign Falcao on loan for £6 million subject to a medical examination with an option to sign permanently for £43.5 million (€55 million) at the end. The deal saw him earn £265,000-a-week at the club. Manchester City had previously opted out of signing him due to squad size. United confirmed the transfer in the early hours of 2 September.
Despite joining temporarily under a loan contract, Falcao said he would fight to stay at United for many years and become a legend at the club.
He made his debut at Old Trafford on 14 September, playing the final 23 minutes of a 4–0 win over Queens Park Rangers in place of Juan Mata, as United won for the first time in the season. His debut was marked by rapturous applause from the club's supporters as they continuously chanted his name both while he was warming up and on the pitch. On 5 October, he scored his first goal for United, the winner in a 2–1 home victory against Everton.
On 20 December 2014, Falcao made his return for the first time in the staring line-up to score a goal in the second half in a 1–1 draw with Aston Villa. Six days later, he provided an assist for Wayne Rooney against Newcastle United, and United went on to win the match 3–1. On 1 January 2015, Falcao equalised against Stoke City in a 1–1 draw.
His future at United was put under doubt when his agent, Jorge Mendes, stated at the start of the year that his client "may not be at Old Trafford at the start of next season but will play in one of the very best clubs in the world". After failing to offer any shots, either on or off target, against a League One side Preston North End, a BBC commentator, Martin Keown described his struggling performance as "another night of nothing from Falcao".
On 10 March, a day after being an unused substitute as United were knocked out of the FA Cup at home by Arsenal, Falcao played for their under-21 team in a 1–1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, being substituted after 72 minutes. The demotion was publicly criticised most noticeably by former footballers Dietmar Hamann and Willem van Hanegem, whom had described the decision Van Gaal to be 'disrespectful' and 'disgraceful'.
Manchester United announced their decision to not exercise their buy option on Falcao on 24 May 2015, ending a spell at the club in which he scored four goals in 29 appearances.

Chelsea

On 3 July 2015, Chelsea signed Falcao on a season-long loan deal with the option of a permanent transfer at the end of the season. The move reunited him with his Colombia team-mate Juan Cuadrado and former Atlético Madrid team-mates Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois. Midfielder Mario Pašalić went to Monaco on loan in exchange for Falcao joining Chelsea.

International career

Early years 2005–2010

Falcao's national career was "late" in terms of chances in playing for the national team due to injuries around important events. He represented the under-17 national team and the under-20. Falcao was part of the team that won the 2005 edition of the South American Youth Champion. Eventually, his first major international tournament was of the 2005 U-20 World Cup.
In the senior national team, Falcao's first goal came against Montenegro during the Kirin Cup held in Japan during 2007 at only 21 years of age, winning the match for Colombia 1–0. His second occurred later that year in a friendly against Peru. Falcao didn't score his third goal till 2008 against Nigeria in a 1–0 win.
Falcao's first World Cup qualifying goal occurred in 2009, against Peru. His last goal for 2009 was against Venezuela in a friendly that ended 2–1 for Venezuela.
Falcao didn't score another goal for Colombia until the following year in 2011 during a friendly against Ecuador. Falcao scored against Ecuador again a few months later in another friendly where he scored the winning goal on both occasions.

2011 Copa América

After missing the 2007 edition due to injuries, Falcao's first major international tournament was the 2011 Copa América in Argentina. After failing to score against Costa Rica and the hosts, he netted both goals in a 2–0 win against Bolivia, the second a penalty, causing Colombia to top their group. In the quarter-finals, Falcao missed a penalty kick against Peru, which would have won the game had it gone in, and the opponents were able to score two goals in extra time to eliminate his team.

2014 World Cup

Falcao's first match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers started off with a goal against Bolivia in the last minute of added time, giving Colombia the win.
Under new management of the national team led by Argentine José Pekerman, Falcao scored a goal against Mexico in a friendly that ended 2–0.
Falcao's talents were shown against Uruguay, scoring in the second minute to help Colombia win 4–0. In the same match, he assisted Juan Zúñiga, sealing the 4–0 victory in the final minutes of stoppage time. Falcao scored again days later as well as providing an assist against Chile to help give Colombia a 3–1 away win which put them second in the table, one point behind Argentina. On 12 October 2012, Falcao scored both goals in a 2–0 victory over Paraguay.
In Falcao's first game for 2013, he played in the qualifying match against Bolivia. Falcao scored in the final minutes of the game scoring the fourth goal.Falcao scored a penalty against Peru in the 13th minute where Colombia won 2–0.
On 11 October 2013, in the penultimate World Cup qualifying match against Chile, Falcao scored twice from penalty kicks to tie 3–3 after trailing 0–3. This result ensured Colombia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.
Falcao ended the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign as Colombia's top scorer with nine goals.
On 23 January 2014, due to a knee injury, it was announced that Falcao would likely miss the World Cup. However, Falcao expressed his optimism, believing that it's possible for him to make a speedy recovery and make it in time for the world cup. After surgery, it was confirmed that he had a 50/50 chance of making it to the World Cup in time, all in his favor if he does not rush his recovery.
Falcao received tremendous support world wide in social media for a speedy recovery; a social media movement entitled 'Fuerza Tigre' (meaning 'stay strong Tiger' in Spanish) rapidly grew popularity. Former teams that Falcao played for such as River Plate, FC Porto, Atlético Madrid, and current team AS Monaco, have all worn shirts and showcased banners reading 'Fuerza Tigre' in the following respective game for each team. This is following the global support that started in Colombia for a speedy recovery, as all domestic clubs in Colombia followed the trend (wearing 'Fuerza Tigre' shirts as well) during warm-ups during the 2014 Superliga Colombiana and opening of the 2014 Liga Postobon.
On 5 February, Falcao was included in José Pékerman's 30 squad list (later to be narrowed to 23 in May) for the World Cup. In March 2014, it was then reported that Falcao was expected to recover by May. On 16 May, however, Falcao admitted that it would be 'impossible' for him to reach the World Cup at 100%, but he would still try take part. On the same day, he began to train again with his Monaco teammates. On 25 May, Falcao arrived in Argentina to train with the rest of the squad. He however made the decision not to join the squad as he did not feel right taking up a position if not at full health.

2015 Copa América

Falcao would score his first goal in 11 months after starting for the first time since his injury against El Salvador on 10 October 2010. It was his first ever headed goal for his country while influencing the other two goals in a 3–0 victory. In a friendly against Bahrain on 26 March 2015, Falcao assisted one goal and scored a double in a 6–0 win, making him one goal shy of Arnoldo Iguarán's record as Colombia's top scorer. Four days later, he drew level on 24 goals with Iguarán with a penalty in a 3–1 win over Kuwait.
On 6 June, he broke the record by scoring the only goal to defeat Costa Rica in a friendly in Buenos Aires ahead of the 2015 Copa América. He captained the team at the tournament but failed to score in three group matches and was dropped for Jackson Martínez for the quarter-final defeat to Argentina on 26 June.

Playing style and praise

Falcao has been described as one of the most "natural in form, goal scorers" in the world. His abilities to adapt to most positions and scoring goals with various parts of his body has resulted in goals. Described as a 'poacher', Falcao is often labeled as a 'pure striker' often playing as a traditional 'number 9', capitalizing on less amount of chances that are given to him than the typical goal scorer. His footing and curves are highly noticeable through his games regardless of distance and/or positions. Falcao is well known for having a strong weak foot (left) that is on equals with his right foot (preference) allowing him to be flexible with goal scoring. Falcao controls a well balance pace keeping his stamina in check and allowing him to often out run other players in the most critical moments in obtaining the ball. The strength of his shots is often well controlled, in terms of distance and angles, as shown throughout his career. While Falcao is only of average height, his header technique has given him an edge in aerial battles for balls. His most impressive goals tend to be headers, with the majority of his goals coming in the air.

Falcao's talents have been recognized by football players former and current, perhaps most notably by former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, who described him as "sensational" and as one of the most talented in the world. Fabio Capello has considered him to be on the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Personal life

Falcao is a second generation footballer, with his father Radamel García having played professionally as a defender in Colombia and Venezuela, moving to the latter country when Falcao was five. At first, he was picked on in Venezuela for not being good at the country's most popular sport, baseball.
His name derives from the 1980s Brazil, Internacional and Roma legend Paulo Roberto Falcão, as a tribute from his father Radamel García. Despite being named Radamel, he prefers to use his middle name in interviews. Falcao is married to Argentinean singer Lorelei Taron. In early 2013, it was revealed that Falcao was expecting his first child with her. Dominique García Taron was born on 13 August 2013, at the Princess Grace Hospital in La Colle, Monaco., his second daughter Desirée García Taron was born in February 2015. Falcao is a Christian.
He is partially of English descent; George King, one of his great-grandfathers, emigrated from the North Yorkshire village of Burn near Selby in 1932 to work as an accountant for the United Fruit Company in Colombia. Owing to this ancestry, Falcao's father attempted to make it easier for his son to play in Europe by obtaining a British passport for him, however this was rejected.


Juan Guillermo Cuadrado Bello

Juan Guillermo Cuadrado Bello (locally: born 26 May 1988) is a Colombian professional footballer who plays primarily as a winger for Premier League side Chelsea and the Colombian national team. He is known for his direct style of play, including pace on and off the ball, as well as dribbling skills.
Having begun his career at Independiente Medellín, he moved to Italy in 2009 when signed by Udinese. Used sparingly at the club, he was loaned to Lecce for the 2011–12 season, where despite relegation from Serie A, his performances earned a transfer to Fiorentina. In February 2015, he was signed by Chelsea.
Cuadrado made his senior international debut in 2010, and has since earned over 35 caps. He played at the 2011 Copa América, and was also part of the Colombian squad which reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Club career

Early career

Born in Necoclí, Cuadrado began his club career in Atlético Uraba, where his preferred position was as a forward. However, on the recommendation of club founder Nelson Gallego, Cuadrado took on a midfielder role, usually as a winger. Cuadrado's confidence and ability in the position also allowed him to play occasionally as a full-back. He later had a brief spell at Colombian second division club Rionegro, where he languished on the bench under coach Víctor González Scott, but his potential was recognized by Juan José Peláez of Independiente Medellin. He was eventually signed by Medellin in 2008, allowing him to return to the first division. That year, Cuadrado made his senior professional debut against Boyacá Chicó, a match in which he would also score his first goal. Cuadrado lasted until 2009 at Medellin before making the leap to European football.

Udinese

On 2 July 2009, Cuadrado signed for Italian Serie A side Udinese on a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee. He played his first match for Udinese in a 2–1 win with Chievo Verona as a right wing back. However, Cuadrado was not given many first-team minutes the rest of the season, and he would be sent on loan to fellow Serie A side Lecce.

Loan to Lecce

On 3 August 2011, it was officially confirmed that Cuadrado would join Lecce for the 2011–12 season. He scored his first goal for the club against Cesena, the sole goal in a 1–0 victory. In spite of further impressive performances from Cuadrado, however, Lecce finished 18th, and was relegated from Serie A. He would then return to Udinese to avoid playing in the second flight. Around this time, he was watched by an unidentified English club who deemed that at 23 years he was too old to be signed by the club.

Fiorentina

On 23 July 2012, Cuadrado completed a move to Fiorentina. He scored his first goal for the Florence club in a 4–1 victory at home to Cagliari. He finished the season with 5 goals and 6 assists, an integral part of a side that finished 4th in Serie A.
On 11 February 2014, Cuadrado scored Fiorentina's second goal of a 2–0 Coppa Italia semi-final second leg victory over his former club, Udinese, securing La Viola a 3-2 aggregate victory and a spot in the final. He was suspended for the final, which his team lost 1–3 to Napoli on 3 May.
On 16 June 2014, amid media speculation of a move for the player to a larger club, Fiorentina agreed a deal to purchase full ownership of Cuadrado's contract from Udinese.

Chelsea

On 2 February 2015, English Premier League club Chelsea announced the signing of Cuadrado from Fiorentina on a four-and-a-half-year deal, for an initial fee of £23.3 million, which could potentially rise to £26.8 million; Mohamed Salah went the other way on loan. Upon signing, Cuadrado said: "I am very happy and thankful for this opportunity I’ve been given. This is a great club and honestly it is like a dream to join the Chelsea family and to know that the manager (José Mourinho) believes in me. I’m happy." His Fiorentina manager, Vincenzo Montella, stated "It was a sale that had to be done. Cuadrado is a player that has always arrived with a smile and given everything to Fiorentina - I'm happy for him because he is going to a big club."

International career

After being transferred to Udinese, Cuadrado received his first call-up to the Colombia national football team, as well as a spot in the starting XI in a match against Venezuela on 3 September 2010. He was named man of the match and scored the opening goal of a 2-0 victory.
Cuadrado was called up by José Pekerman for a friendly against Mexico on 29 February 2012 at Miami Gardens. He started the match and scored the second goal, a tap-in from a Pablo Armero pass, for Colombia in a comfortable 2-0 victory.
Cuadrado was named in Colombia's 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In the third group stage match, a 4–1 defeat of Japan, he scored the team's opening goal from a penalty kick. He would end his World Cup campaign with 4 assists, tying with Toni Kroos as the competition's assist leader.

Playing style

Tim Vickery, a reporter on South American football, stated that as Colombia's defensive players played near to the goal in order to cover for veteran centre-back Mario Yepes, Cuadrado's pace and dribbling ability moved the team forward at the 2014 World Cup. He also said that Cuadrado is equally adept as an attacking right back.

Loic Remy



Loïc Rémy (born 2 January 1987) is a French professional footballer who plays for English club Queens Park Rangers and the France national team. Rémy primarily plays in the striker role. He was described by his former manager Didier Deschamps as "a young international who is fast and powerful with huge potential".
Born in Rillieux-la-Pape, Rhône, Rémy began his career playing for a local youth club in his home city of Lyon. In 1999, he joined the biggest club in the city, Olympique Lyonnais, and spent six years in the club's youth academy. In 2005, he was promoted to the senior team and struggled to establish himself in three seasons under managers Gérard Houllier and Alain Perrin. In 2008, he was loaned out to RC Lens and, after a successful stint, was purchased by OGC Nice ahead of the 2008–09 season. With Nice, Rémy flourished in the lead striker role scoring over 25 goals in his two years with the club. In 2010, after enduring interest from several clubs domestically and abroad, Rémy joined the defending champions Marseille on a five-year contract. The transfer had initially been put on hold due to medical issues. He moved abroad for the first time to join Queens Park Rangers in January 2013, but could not prevent their relegation. The following season he remained in the Premier League on loan at Newcastle United.
Rémy is a former France under-20 and under-21 international. He earned his first cap for the senior team in June 2009 against Nigeria and played at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Early career

Rémy was born on 2 January 1987 in a Red Cross hospital in Rillieux-la-Pape, a commune in the city of Lyon. He began his career, as a youth, playing for local outfit ASPTT Lyon, who were coached by René Jacquet, the brother of manager Aimé Jacquet. After being spotted by Olympique Lyonnais scouts, he joined the club's youth academy. While training at the Centre Tola Vologe, Rémy trained alongside the likes of Karim Benzema, Anthony Mounier, and Hatem Ben Arfa. After spending several years in the academy, on 11 October 2006, Rémy signed his first professional contract agreeing to a three-year deal. Three days later, on 14 October, he made his professional debut in a Derby du Rhône match against Saint-Étienne appearing as a substitute, in the 73rd minute, for Sylvain Wiltord. Rémy earned his first start the following month, on 11 November, playing 82 minutes in a 1–0 victory over Sedan.

Lens (loan)

The 2007–08 season saw Rémy permanently promoted to the senior team after being assigned the number 12 shirt. Despite being on the first team, he regularly played with the club's Championnat de France amateur team in the fourth division. Rémy only made six league appearances during the fall season with Lyon. In order to increased the player's playing time, on 31 January 2008, Lyon announced that Rémy would be sent on loan to fellow Ligue 1 club RC Lens. The deal also included a purchased option, which was estimated to be within the €8–10 million range. Rémy was assigned the number 9 shirt and made his debut on 9 February 2008 scoring his first professional goal in the club's 4–1 away victory over Caen. Two weeks later, he scored a goal in the club's 5–4 victory over Le Mans in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals. Rémy played 96 of the 120 minutes played. On 15 March, in front a 40,000+ Lens supporters, he scored the would be game-winning goal against Marseille. Marseille equalized through Djibril Cissé in the waning minutes of the match. In the 2008 Coupe de la Ligue final against Paris Saint-Germain, Rémy started the match, but played only 12 minutes before being substituted due to injury. Lens lost the match, 1–0. Following the successful loan spell, in which Rémy made 12 total appearances and scored four goals, it was announced that he would be returning to Lyon for the 2008–09 season.

Nice

Despite having two years left on his contract at Lyon, it was announced on 5 June 2008 that Rémy would be joining Nice with the player agreeing to a four-year deal and the transfer fee being approximately €8 million making Rémy the biggest transfer in the club's history. Upon his arrival, Rémy was assigned the number 7 shirt and made his debut in the club's opening match of the season, a 1–0 loss to Le Havre. Over the next six matches, Rémy scored six goals. These goals included a strike against his former club Lyon and a brace against Boulogne in the Coupe de la Ligue. In a span of four days in October, he scored goals against Bordeaux in a 2–2 draw and Caen in a 1–1 draw. After going scoreless for most of the winter months, Rémy returned to form in March 2009 scoring goals in three straight matches against Caen, Paris Saint-Germain, and Lorient, with the player scoring a brace against the latter. He finished the season with 36 total appearances and a club-leading 13 goals.
Rémy opened up the 2009–10 campaign scoring his first goal in the opening league match of the season against Saint-Étienne in a 2–0 victory. A month later, he netted goals in three straight matches against Monaco and Lille in the league and against Saint-Étienne in the Coupe de la Ligue. Two weeks later, Rémy converted goals in back-to-back matches against Lorient and his former club Lyon, though Nice lost both matches at a combined score of 8–2. On 7 November 2009, Rémy scored the game-winning goal, two minutes from time, in the team's upset victory over Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes. The following match day, he again accounted for the only goal of the match converting a penalty against Toulouse. On 10 January 2010, Rémy converted Nice's only goal in their 2–1 loss to semi-professional club Stade Plabennecois in the Coupe de France.
On 20 January, following a heartbreaking 1–0 defeat to Auxerre at home, disgruntled Nice supporters reportedly spat on several Nice players, which included Rémy. During an interview, Rémy called the supporters' actions "unacceptable" and threatened to depart the club during the winter 2010 transfer window if the actions were repeated. Rémy had drawn interest from several clubs, which included Premier League club Arsenal, and Italian clubs A.C. Milan and Fiorentina. He was also linked with a return to Lyon and a move to the defending Ligue 1 champions Bordeaux. Eventually, Rémy remained at the club after a move to his former club Olympique Lyonnais failed to come to fruition. Rémy played out the rest of the campaign scoring goals in back-to-back matches on two occasions in February and March 2010. On 2 May, he scored double in a 3–3 draw with Boulogne and on the final match day of the year against Saint-Étienne, Rémy scored the Nice's only goal in a 1–1 draw.

Marseille

On 19 August 2010, Olympique de Marseille confirmed on the club's official website that it had reached an agreement with Nice for the transfer of Rémy. Rémy underwent a medical on the same day and signed a five-year contract. He was presented to the press on 20 August. The transfer fee is undisclosed, but is reported to be in the region of €15 million. During Rémy's press conference, Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier revealed that, during the player's medical, tests revealed that Rémy suffered from a possible heart defect. Rémy missed the team's league match against Lorient on 21 August and further tests were conducted on 23 August to determine whether the defect could be career-threatening. On 24 August, Rémy was declared fit to practice and play the sport of football at a high level by Marseille doctors and heart specialists consulted by the club.
Rémy was assigned the number 11 shirt and made his club debut for Marseille on 29 August 2010 in a league match against Bordeaux. He scored his first goal for the club on 16 October in a 1–0 league victory over Nancy. The following week, he scored a double in a 3–1 win over Lille. In the UEFA Champions League, Rémy scored group stage goals against Slovak club MŠK Žilina and Russian club FC Spartak Moscow.
He scored the only goal of the game in a 1–0 victory over AS Nancy on 2 May 2012, their first Ligue 1 victory since 29 January, a run that spanned 14 games.

Queens Park Rangers

On 13 January 2013, the president of Olympique Marseille confirmed that the club had accepted a bid in the region of €10 million for Rémy from English club Newcastle United, and the player was expected to travel to Newcastle for talks but failed to turn up. Three days later, Rémy signed a four-and-a-half year contract with bottom of the league Queens Park Rangers, who paid a club record £8 million fee for the player. He was handed the number 18 shirt. The BBC Sport website reported that QPR's financial package, "understood to be more than £70,000 per week", was higher than Newcastle had offered. He scored his first goal for the club during his league debut on 19 January away against West Ham United, which ended in a 1–1 draw.
On 15 May 2013 Rémy, along with two other men, was arrested in London over an alleged gang rape that took place on 6 May. Remy was released without charge in February 2014

Newcastle United (loan)

On 5 August 2013, Newcastle United confirmed that they had signed Rémy on a season-long loan from Queens Park Rangers. He missed the first two games of the season due to injury, however he made an immediate impact on his league debut against Fulham. He scored his first league goals for Newcastle against Hull City on 21 September, a brace in their 3–2 defeat. He followed that up by scoring in the next game against Everton at Goodison Park on 30 September, however Newcastle once again went on to lose 3–2. Five days later Rémy continued his this run of form by scoring both goals in a 2–1 away win over Cardiff City, bringing his total goal count to 5 in as many appearances. On 2 November 2013, Remy scored the second goal against Chelsea in a 2–0 victory at home, and received Man of the match for his goal and work in the forward line. On 10 November 2013, Rémy scored the only goal of the game as Newcastle won, 1–0, against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane to take his tally to 7 goals In 9 league games. Rémy once again scored on 23 November 2013 in Newcastle United's 2-1 victory over Norwich, bringing his tally to 8 goals in 10 league games.

Return to QPR

Upon his expiration of his loan spell at Newcastle and despite QPR being promoted at the first attempt, manager Harry Redknapp admitted it would be hard to hold on to Remy, "I think he really wants to play Champions League football next year somewhere".
After a successful loan spell at Newcastle United, Rémy attracted interested from Champions League clubs, notably Arsenal and Liverpool. Rémy was seen attending an Arsenal game whilst on loan to Newcastle in April of the 2013–14 season and on 8 July 2014, he was reported to be in talks to join Arsenal. Two weeks later, Liverpool triggered the £8.5 million release clause in Rémy's contract which was only available for Champions League teams. Remy then flew to Boston on 21 July, to undertake a medical with Liverpool and link up with the squad on their pre-season tour of the United States. Liverpool however pulled out of the transfer after he failed his medical with the club.
On 30 August 2014, Rémy was left out of QPR's match against Sunderland after Chelsea activated his £8.5 million release clause. Although he wanted to play, manager Harry Redknapp thought that he would not be at his best due to the pending transfer.

International career

Rémy was a France youth international having earned caps with the under-20 and under-21 team. With the under-20 team, he played in the 2007 Toulon Tournament scoring goals against the Côte d'Ivoire and Japan. Rémy made his under-21 debut on 15 November 2007 in a friendly match against Armenia.
He scored his first goal for the team on 25 May 2008 against the Netherlands in an under-21 tournament held in Sweden. Rémy featured in the team's important two-legged playoff against Germany in qualification for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship in October 2008. He appeared in both legs as France were defeated 2–1 on aggregate. The 1–0 loss in the second leg eliminated France from the competition and also ended Rémy's under-21 career.
On 24 March 2008, due to an injury to Thierry Henry, Rémy was called up to the France national football team by manager Raymond Domenech for friendly matches against England and Mali, with the latter match for France B, the squad's second team. Rémy appeared in the match against Mali coming on as a substitute in the 54th minute for Samir Nasri. After a string of uneventful call-ups to the senior team, on 2 June, Rémy finally made his national team debut against Nigeria coming on as a substitute in the team's 1–0 defeat. He scored his first goal on 9 October 2010 in a Euro 2012 qualification match against Romania, which ended 2–0.
He was part of the French squad which reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He made his tournament debut in the final group game in 26 June, a goalless draw with Ecuador, playing the last 11 minutes in place of Antoine Griezmann. Rémy's only other appearance at the tournament came in the 74th minute of the quarter-final against Germany, replacing Yohan Cabaye as France lost 1–0.

Chelsea Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of Loic Remy from Queens Park Rangers.
The France international striker has signed a four-year contract.



Mario Pasalic

Mario Pašalić (born 9 February 1995) is a German-born Croatian footballer who now plays as a midfielder for Chelsea in the Premier League.

Club career

Pašalić started training football at the low-tier GOŠK (KG), before joining the Hajduk Split's youth academy in early 2006. A youth international, he first gained wider recognition in the 2011–2012 season, scoring 17 goals for the U-17 team, despite being a midfielder and, in the last match of the season, scoring the winning goal for the U-19 team in a 3–2 match vs. Hrvatski Dragovoljac, in the 90th minute, which secured their championship trophy.
During the pre-season, however, he was diagnosed with a Staphylococcus infection, because of which he was forced to miss the first half of the 2012–2013 season. He recuperated, however, and made his first team league debut on 14 April 2013 in a match vs. HNK Cibalia, when he entered for Ivan Vuković in the 90th minute. The 13-14 season was Mario's real breakthrough year. In the summer he signed a four year professional contract with Hajduk and went on to make 36 appearances in all competitions, scoring 11 goals in the 1. HNL and assisting a further five goals. In September 2013, Pašalić has scored two goals in a derby against Dinamo Zagreb (twice from a corner kicks sent from Haris Bukva). On 8 February 2014 he scored 2 goals in 1-2 win against city rivals RNK Split.
On 9 July 2014, Chelsea announced the signing of Pašalić from Hajduk Split, for a fee believed to be in the region of £3 million. Upon signing, Pašalić said: I am very happy because I am now a Chelsea player."

International career

On 14 May 2014, Pašalić was on Niko Kovač's 30-man list that were named to participate in 2014 FIFA World Cup. However he was later cut when the list was shortened.

Honours

Club

Hajduk Split

Croatian U-19 championship: 2012

Cesc Fàbregas

Cesc Fàbregas Euro 2012 vs France 02.jpg
Francesc "Cesc" Fàbregas Soler (born 4 May 1987) is a Spanish footballer who now plays for Chelsea in Premier League, and the Spanish national team. Fàbregas plays mainly as a central midfielder or attacking midfielder but has also played as a winger or a second striker on some occasions.
Fàbregas started his career as a trainee with Barcelona but was signed by Premier League side Arsenal in September 2003 at the age of 16. Following injuries to key midfielders in the 2004–05 season, he went on to establish himself as Arsenal's starting central midfielder, playmaker and captain. He broke several of the club's records in the process, earning a reputation as one of the best young players for his position. After protracted transfer negotiations, Fàbregas returned to Barcelona; the Catalan giants signed the midfielder for an initial fee of £35 million with a further £5 million in variables on 15 August 2011. Despite competition from his international teammates Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, Fàbregas was a regular goalscorer in his three seasons at Barcelona, and won the first league title of his career in 2013. He signed for Chelsea in June 2014.
In international football, the Spaniard's national career began when he represented the Under-17 side at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. As a result of his club performances, he was called up to the senior squad in 2006. He has played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, helping Spain to become eventual winners in the three most recent tournaments, and most notably setting up Andrés Iniesta for the winning goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final in South Africa.

Early years

Born in Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, Catalonia, to Francesc Fabregas Sr., who runs a property company, and Núria Soler, the owner of a pastry company, Fàbregas has supported FC Barcelona since childhood and went to his first match when he was nine months old with his grandfather. He began his club football career with CE Mataró, before being signed for Barcelona's La Masia youth academy aged 10 in 1997. His first coach, Señor Blai, reportedly did not select Fàbregas for matches against Barcelona in an attempt to hide him from their scouts. This tactic, however, was unable to withstand Barcelona for long, and Mataró gave in and allowed Fàbregas to train with Barcelona one day per week. Eventually Fàbregas joined Barcelona's academy full-time. His initial training was as a defensive midfielder playing alongside notable names such as Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi. Although he was a prolific scorer, sometimes scoring even more than 30 goals in a season for the club's youth teams, he did not manage to play a first team game at the Camp Nou. During his time at Barcelona's youth academy, Fàbregas idolised Barcelona's then-captain and number four Pep Guardiola, who would later give Fàbregas his shirt as consolation when Fàbregas' parents divorced.

Club career

Arsenal

Sensing that he would have limited opportunities at Barcelona, Fàbregas joined Arsenal in their Academy, signing for the London club on 11 September 2003. Initially, he found life difficult in England's capital but soon struck a friendship with Spanish-speaking team-mate Philippe Senderos, who helped him settle down. As a 16-year-old, Fàbregas did not contemplate breaking into the first team immediately but looked up to senior players like Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva, while concentrating on training and learning the English language. He nevertheless made his debut for Arsenal not long after, on 28 October 2003, in a League Cup tie at home to Rotherham United. In doing so he became Arsenal's youngest ever first team player, aged 16 years and 177 days. He then became the youngest goalscorer in Arsenal's history in a later round of the League Cup, scoring in a 5–1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Although Arsenal went on to win the league unbeaten in the 2003–04 season, Fàbregas was not awarded a winner's medal because he did not play a single league game.
It was not until the start of the 2004–05 season that the Spaniard started making first team appearances in matches outside the League Cup. His first match of the season was against Manchester United in the FA Community Shield. Following an injury to Vieira, Fàbregas stepped in and made four consecutive Premier League starts. He was praised for his performances in those games, even claiming a goal against Blackburn Rovers in a 3–0 victory, and becoming Arsenal's youngest ever goalscorer in a league game. With further injuries to Edu and Gilberto Silva, he received more playing time in all competitions. He signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in September 2004, which committed his long-term future to the club. In October 2004, Arsenal lost 2–0 to Manchester United, ending their 49-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. The match was dubbed the "Battle of the Buffet" after pizza was thrown at Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of the match in the players' tunnel by a then-unknown Arsenal player. Speculation that the player was Fàbregas was confirmed in November 2011 by former Arsenal player Martin Keown on a phone-in show on BBC Radio 5 Live. In the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, he became the second-youngest goalscorer in the competition's history after scoring the third goal against Rosenborg in a 5–1 win. He concluded his season by winning his first honours with Arsenal when he was in the starting eleven that defeated Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup Final.

Making the starting eleven

After the departure of Vieira to Juventus, Fàbregas was given the Frenchman's number 4 shirt and featured regularly in the Arsenal central midfield alongside Gilberto Silva. He made 49 appearances in all competitions during the 2005–06 season. Despite his young age, his performances came under greater scrutiny due to his increased involvement in the first team. Further, as Fàbregas possessed a smaller frame and played with less aggression than Vieira, there were initially doubts over his ability to fill in the void left by the Frenchman. Nevertheless, Fàbregas asserted his own style of play and impressed pundits in the Champions League against Real Madrid and Juventus. In the latter, he scored Arsenal's first goal and set up Thierry Henry for the second, at the same time proving that he could compete against tough, hard-tackling midfielders like Vieira. He then played in the Final against his former club Barcelona, but Arsenal were defeated 2–1, completing a trophyless 2005–06 campaign for Arsenal.
Fàbregas' increase in exposure drew transfer speculation during the summer; Real Madrid expressed a desire to sign the Spaniard despite his long-term contract with Arsenal, but Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger stated that Arsenal would not listen to any offers. In September 2006, with six years left on his deal, Arsenal offered a new five-year deal (with an option to extend by a further three years) to the midfielder, which he signed on 19 October 2006. While the contract was unusually long, Fàbregas cited Arsenal's playing style and Wenger as reasons for his long-term commitment to the club.
The 2006–07 season was a learning experience for the young Arsenal squad and Fàbregas. The club again failed to secure any major honours and were defeated by city rivals Chelsea in the League Cup Final. However, Fàbregas emerged as one of the key creative players for the team, playing in every single league game. He kickstarted Arsenal's 2006–07 UEFA Champions League campaign when he scored a brace in a 3–0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in a qualifier match. In the Premier League, he notched up 13 assists, which was the second-highest total in the league. He ended the season with several individual honours, including the Golden Boy award, presented by the Italian paper TuttoSport, based on a poll of leading writers across Europe. He was also named in the 2006 UEFA Team of the Year, and named FA Premier League Player of the Month for January 2007. Additionally, he was nominated for both PFA Players' Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year, although both awards went to Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo.
In June 2007, he was named Arsenal's Player of the Season, taking in 60% of the votes.
The 2007–08 season began with much uncertainty for Arsenal. First, David Dein, the club's vice-chairman, left amidst allegations of internal strife, followed by the departure of the club's all-time top goalscorer and captain, Thierry Henry, who signed for Barcelona. There was also speculation over Wenger's future with the club. Fàbregas knew that he would become the most important player for Arsenal, but stated he was ready for the challenge. He started the season well, chalking up goals and assists, and website soccernet attributed the early success of Arsenal to the young Spaniard. His start to the season also earned him the O2 Player of the Month award from Arsenal fans for August, September and October, as well as the Premier League Player of the Month for September. With Arsenal leading the league table until March, Fàbregas was equally instrumental in the club's 2007–08 Champions League campaign; in the return leg against Milan, the midfielder scored late in the game to send Arsenal into the quarter-finals. Though Arsenal ended the season trophyless, Fàbregas amassed several personal awards. On 11 April 2008, Fàbregas was nominated for the PFA Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards for the second year running; he was later crowned the winner of the latter, and named in the PFA Team of the Year. He was also named the 2007–08 Arsenal.com Player of the Season.

Captaincy

On 24 November 2008, 14 league games into the 2008–09 season, Fàbregas was named as the successor to William Gallas as club captain. However, just as Arsenal were getting back into the title race after a poor start to the season, the Spaniard was ruled out for four months after sustaining a knee injury against Liverpool. The Gunners eventually finished the season without any silverware, coming in fourth in the league and being knocked out at the semi-finals of the 2008–09 Champions League campaign. In tandem with Arsenal's policy to groom its young players, the team that Fàbregas led into the new season consisted mostly of the same young nucleus as before, with the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, Gaël Clichy, Abou Diaby, Denílson, Samir Nasri, Alexandre Song, and Theo Walcott in tow.
In the opening league game of 2009–10 season, Fàbregas scored a brace and managed two assists in Arsenal's 6–1 away win against Everton. Arsenal went on to secure qualification for the 2009–10 Champions League campaign by beating Celtic over two legs, but their early momentum to the season was disrupted by consecutive league game losses to Manchester United and Manchester City. The team bounced back strongly after this setback, and with Fàbregas being prolific in scoring and setting up his teammates, it went unbeaten in the next 13 games. Despite suffering four league losses even before mid-season approached, Arsenal managed to lead the league standings after 22 games. On 31 March 2010, in the Champions League first leg of the quarter-final against Barcelona, Fàbregas suffered a leg fracture before scoring the equalising goal in the game which ended 2–2. Arsenal, who were four points behind league leaders Manchester United, were deprived of their captain for the remaining six league games of the season; they were subsequently eliminated by Barcelona in the Champions League, and fell out of the league title race. Fàbregas was later named to the PFA Team of the Year.
Before the start of the 2010–11 season, there was once again intense media speculation about the Spaniard's future, and in June 2010, a €35 million bid from Barcelona was rejected. The 2010–11 season turned out to be an extremely competitive one in the Premier League; even though Arsenal had lost five games before mid-season, they were jostling for pole position with Manchester United and Manchester City. Going into late February, Arsenal were still in contention for the quadruple, but within a span of two weeks they lost in the League Cup final, were eliminated by Barcelona in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, and defeated in the FA Cup quarter-final. Although Fàbregas did not play in the League Cup Final, it was his misplaced backheel pass during the second leg of the Champions League game against Barcelona that allowed them to level the aggregate score. Arsenal remained in contention for the league title until a series of draws in the final third of the season caused them to fall too far behind league leaders Manchester United; they ended the season fourth. The following season was once again marked by uncertainty. Barcelona made several bids for Fàbregas, while Nasri, Arsenal's star performer the previous campaign, was courted by Manchester City.

Barcelona

2011–12 season

On 15 August 2011, Barcelona signed Fàbregas for an initial fee of €29 million with a further €5 million in variables, plus Fàbregas would paid Arsenal €1 million a year from his wage for 5-year. ending one of the most protracted transfer sagas in recent times. Statistics show that in the five years prior to Fàbregas's departure from Arsenal, Fàbregas created 466 goal-scoring chances, made 86 assists and scored 48 goals, all three statistics topping those of new team mates Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta despite both having made more appearances in the same period.
Fàbregas joined a team that had won three La Liga titles in a row and two Champions League titles in three years, and one that featured the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, and David Villa. He made his debut in the second leg of the Supercopa de España, coming on as a substitute against Real Madrid. Barcelona won the tie 3–2 and 5–4 on aggregate. He scored his first goal in a 2–0 win against FC Porto as Barcelona won the 2011 UEFA Super Cup, and his first league goal on his league debut against Villarreal CF. He went on to score three more league goals in the month of September, including a late equaliser in the 2–2 away draw to Valencia CF.
Fàbregas then spent the majority of October sidelined with a hamstring injury picked up on international duty. He made his return, and scored, in a 4–0 away victory to FC Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League. He then made his league return in the 2–2 draw away to Athletic Bilbao, scoring a goal in the same match. Fàbregas then went on to score a brace in a 5–0 home victory against Levante UD before netting in a 3–1 away victory against Real Madrid. Fàbregas later scored against Santos FC to help Barcelona to a 4–0 victory in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup final.
Fàbregas got another brace in a 4–0 victory against CA Osasuna in the Copa del Rey. He also scored in the semi-final of the competition against Valencia to help Barcelona to the final with a 3–1 win on aggregate. He kept a regular run in the Barcelona side for the rest of the season, including appearances in both semi-final legs of the 3–2 aggregate defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League, and a substitute appearance in the 3–0 victory against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.
Fàbregas ended his first season at Barcelona by winning the 2011–12 Copa del Rey, 2011 Supercopa de España, 2011 UEFA Super Cup and the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, notching 15 goals and 20 assists in 48 appearances and four best midfielder awards.

2012–13 season

Fàbregas ended his long goal drought for his club when he scored his first league goals of the season with a brace against Sevilla FC in a 3–2 away victory. He then scored three goals in October, coming in the league, Champions League and the Copa del Rey. He scored again on 25 November in a 4–0 win away to Levante UD. On 13 January 2013, Fàbregas scored in a 3–1 win away to Málaga CF. Fàbregas scored his first hat-trick of his career against RCD Mallorca in a 5–0 victory on 6 April 2013. He ended his second season at Barcelona by winning the first league title of his career, with a record 100 points. Barcelona were eliminated, however, in the semi-finals of both the Copa del Rey, to rivals Real Madrid, and the Champions League, to winners Bayern Munich. Fàbregas ended the season with 14 goals and 12 assists in 48 appearances in all competitions.

2013–14 season

Barcelona began the season by winning the Supercopa de España. In the opening game of the league season on 18 August, Fàbregas provided five assists in a 7–0 win over Levante. He scored 8 goals in 36 league matches, including braces in away wins over Granada on 10 November and Getafe on 22 December, the latter including a penalty kick. He also scored the only goal of the game on 1 October as Barcelona won away at Celtic in the Group Stage of the Champions League, heading in Alexis Sánchez's cross in the 73rd minute.

Chelsea

On 12 June 2014, English Premier League team Chelsea signed Fàbregas on a five-year contract for a fee of around £30 million. Fàbregas said that Arsenal were given the first option to buy him back, but they turned him down. He also said that he had "unfinished business" in the Premier League. The former Arsenal captain joined their London rivals despite claiming in 2011 that he would never sign for another English club.

International career

Youth team

Although he features regularly for the Spain national football team, Fàbregas' international career began at youth level. At the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship held in Finland, he finished as top scorer of the tournament despite playing in midfield, and was voted Player of the Tournament. Spain finished runners-up in the tournament to Brazil. Fàbregas was next involved in the 2004 UEFA U-17 European Championship, where Spain also finished runners-up. He was named the Golden Player of the tournament by FIFA.

Senior team

After emerging as one of Arsenal's key players in only his second season at the club, it did not take long for Fàbregas to be called up to the senior squad. Noting his impressive performances in Arsenal's 2006 Champions League campaign, Spain coach Luis Aragonés named the teenager in the team for a friendly against Ivory Coast. In that game, Fàbregas became the youngest player capped for Spain in 70 years, beating Sergio Ramos' record. He received favourable reviews for his début, and was involved in the build-up to Spain's first goal in the 3–2 victory over the Ivorians.

2006 World Cup

On 15 May 2006, Fàbregas was selected for the Spanish 2006 FIFA World Cup squad. During the tournament, he came on as a second-half substitute in Spain's first two group matches, contributing an assist to striker Fernando Torres in their 3–1 victory against Tunisia. He then started alongside Spain's reserve players (including then-Arsenal teammate José Antonio Reyes) in Spain's third group match against Saudi Arabia. He earned a starting role in Spain's first knockout-stage match against France, in place of Marcos Senna, but Spain lost 3–1. Fàbregas also became the youngest player in Spanish football history to participate in a World Cup when he came on as a substitute for Luis García after 77 minutes in the 4–0 victory against Ukraine on 13 June 2006; he was then 19 years and 41 days old. He was later nominated for the Gillette Young Player of the World Cup, but Germany's Lukas Podolski won the award.

UEFA Euro 2008

In UEFA Euro 2008, Fàbregas was handed the squad number 10, rather than 18 which he had previously held. Despite featuring mostly as a substitute, the midfielder made a considerable impact in Spain's campaign. He scored his first international goal in that competition in Spain's 4–1 win over Russia and also had an assist in that game. Spain won all three of their group games and met Italy in the quarter-finals. In that match, Fàbregas scored the winning penalty in the penalty shoot-out after the teams remained deadlocked 0–0 after extra time. In the semi-finals, Spain defeated Russia 3–0 with Fàbregas providing two assists. The midfielder made the starting eleven in the Final against Germany where Spain prevailed 1–0; this was Spain's first major title since 1964. For his efforts, Fàbregas was named in the Team of the Tournament, a 23-man squad selected by the UEFA Technical Team.

2009 Confederations Cup

After missing out for several months due to his injury, Fàbregas regained his place as a regular in Vicente del Bosque's squad. In June, he was named in the team for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. He scored his second international goal in a 5–0 win against New Zealand in the competition's group stage. In the semi-finals against the United States (which Fàbregas started), Spain suffered a shock 2–0 loss, and its 15-game winning streak came to an end.

2010 World Cup

Fàbregas was selected as a part of del Bosque's 23-man squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. With del Bosque preferring a starting midfield of Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, Fàbregas did not start in any of Spain's games in the competition. He featured as a substitute in four of their seven matches, in which Spain lost their opening game before winning the next six en route to the final. In the Final itself, Fàbregas set up the extra-time winner for Iniesta to win Spain the World Cup for the first time in their history.

UEFA Euro 2012

Fàbregas was selected as a part of del Bosque's 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2012. Fàbregas started in the front three of a 4–3–3 formation against Italy in Spain's opening Group C match. In the 64th minute he scored the equaliser after Italy had taken the lead in the 61st minute; the game finished in a 1–1 draw.
He then scored his second goal of the tournament in the group stage match against Ireland. When Spain faced Portugal in the semi-finals and the game remained scoreless at the end of extra time, Fàbregas scored the winning penalty of the shootout as Spain prevailed 4–2. In the final against Italy, Fàbregas started and provided the assist to David Silva for the game's opening goal, en route to a 4–0 Spain victory.

2013 Confederations Cup

Fàbregas was named in the provisional squad in the lead up to the 2013 Confederations Cup by del Bosque. He made two starts in the competition and one substitute appearance, all during the group stage of the competition, and assisting a goal in Spain's opening group match against Uruguay, which Spain won 2-1. Spain won all their group matches, only conceding a goal and scoring 15. Spain advanced to the final of the competition for the first time, after a lengthy and difficult semi-final clash in a re-match against their opponents of the European Championship Final of the previous year, Italy. The match ended 0-0 after extra time and Spain won 7-6 in the resulting penalty shoot-out, but were eventually defeated 3-0 in the final by hosts and defending champions Brazil.

Diego Costa

Diego Costa

Diego Costa has completed a medical examination at Chelsea and is poised to seal his £32m transfer from Atlético Madrid. The Brazil-born striker, who is a part of the Spain squad preparing for the World Cup finals, has been identified by José Mourinho as being what Chelsea need to win the Premier League title.

Diego da Silva Costa born 7 October 1988) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Atlético Madrid in La Liga, as a striker.
Costa began his career with Braga in Portugal. He was signed by Atlético Madrid in 2007, who loaned him back to Braga, and then to Celta and Albacete before selling him to Valladolid in 2009. He returned to Atlético the following season and went on to become a key part of their attack, scoring 27 league goals as they won the league title in 2014.
Internationally, Costa played twice with Brazil in 2013, but later declared his desire to represent Spain, having been granted Spanish citizenship in September 2013. He made his debut for his adopted nation in March 2014.

Club Career

Portugal / loans

Born in Lagarto, Sergipe, Costa started his career at Barcelona Esportivo Capela in São Paulo, being limited to street football until the age of 16. His first professional adventure was in Portugal as he signed in February 2006 with S.C. Braga, after which he spent the following months with the club's reserves.
In the 2006 summer Costa was loaned to F.C. Penafiel, in the second division. In December, however, he was sold to Spain's Atlético Madrid, for €1.5 million and 50% of the player's rights. He remained on loan at Braga until the end of the season, scoring his first goal for the team in the UEFA Cup, a 1–0 win at Parma FC (2–0 on aggregate); in the following two years he would be again loaned, on both occasions to Segunda División sides, starting with Celta de Vigo then with Albacete Balompié, appearing and scoring regularly.

Valladolid

On 8 July 2009 Costa was sold to Real Valladolid as part of the deal that sent goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo in the opposite direction, with the transfer including a buy-back option that could be activated by Atlético at the end of the season.
He started strong for the Castile and León side, scoring six times in his first 12 games, but only found the net once in the following 5½ months as the campaign eventually ended in relegation from La Liga.

Atlético Madrid

In June 2010 Costa returned to the Colchoneros, initially as a backup to Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán – Atlético also paid an undisclosed sum to Braga to buy all the residual 30% economic rights (the former also had to pay an exceed of €833,000 in agent's fees to Gestifute). On 26 September, benefitting from injury to the Argentine, who was sitting on the substitutes bench, he scored the game's only goal at home against Real Zaragoza. On 3 April of the following year, already as a starter after manager Quique Flores demoted the Uruguayan from his position, he netted all of his team's goals in a 3–2 win at CA Osasuna.
In July 2011, during Atlético's pre-season, Costa suffered a serious knee injury, going on to miss the majority of the season. On 23 January 2012 he was loaned to fellow league club Rayo Vallecano, until June; he scored four goals in his first three appearances, including two in a 5–3 away win against Levante UD, eventually finishing his loan spell with 10 goals from 16 games.
During December 2012, Costa was involved in several field altercations in two separate matches, starting in a 0–2 local derby loss against Real Madrid where he avoided disciplinary action, and being sent off in the following game at FC Viktoria Plzeň, for the campaign's Europa League (0–1 defeat, he eventually was handed a four-match ban by UEFA). This, however, did not deter coach Diego Simeone from continuing to start him, and he responded by netting three goals in two home contests, against Deportivo de La Coruña in the league (6–0) and Getafe CF in the season's Copa del Rey (3–0).
After the Spanish Cup semifinals against Sevilla FC, Costa took his goal tally in the competition to seven in as many matches, having scored three times in the tie: in the first leg he netted two penalties in a 2–1 win and, in the second at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium, scored one after an individual effort and assisted Radamel Falcao in the other, also being involved in situations which resulted in two opposing players – Gary Medel and Geoffrey Kondogbia – being sent off in the 2–2 draw.
Costa scored Atlético's equalizing goal in the domestic cup final clash against city-rivals Real Madrid on 17 May 2013, contributing to the 2–1 triumph – the first in 25 games in a streak stretching back to 1999 – and the tenth win in the tournament, confirmed by Miranda's extra-time header. Thus, he became the topscorer of the tournament with eight successful strikes, one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
In August 2013 Costa was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool, who allegedly matched his release clause of €25 million and offered him three times his salary at Atlético.[However, he chose to stay at the club and renewed his contract until 2018, while also doubling his wages; he celebrated this a few days later in the first match of the new season, scoring a brace in a 3–1 win at Sevilla.
On 24 September Costa netted both goals in a 2–1 home triumph over Osasuna, to help his team stay level on points with league leaders FC Barcelona through six games. Four days later, in the Madrid derby, he scored the only goal of the game to record a second win over Real at the Santiago Bernabéu in under five months.[30]
On 22 October 2013 Costa marked his UEFA Champions League debut with two goals against FK Austria Wien, the first coming after a fine individual effort in an eventual 3–0 group stage away win. On 19 February of the following year, in the first knockout round's first leg, he scored the game's only goal at A.C. Milan, netting seven minutes from time after a corner kick from Gabi; he added a further two in the second match, helping to a 4–1 victory that put Atlético into the quarter-finals for the first time in 17 years.
On 30 April 2014 Costa won and converted a penalty in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, as Atlético won 3–1 at Stamford Bridge and advanced to the final of the competition for the first time since 1974. He finished the league season with 27 league goals to be the third highest scorer, and the team won the title for the first time since 1996, but he was substituted after 16 minutes of the last match of the season against Barcelona due to a hamstring injury. Atlético sought to cure this injury for the upcoming Champions League final against Real Madrid by sending him to Belgrade for treatment with a horse placenta, and he was included in the starting line-up for the decisive match, but left the pitch after eight minutes in an eventual 1–4 loss; manager Diego Simeone later admitted a personal mistake in selecting the player to start the final despite his recent injury.

International career

On 5 March 2013, Costa was called up by Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for friendlies with Italy in Geneva and Russia in London, both taking place late in that month. He made his debut in the first match, replacing Fred midway through the second half of the 2–2 draw.
In September 2013, the Royal Spanish Football Federation made an official request to FIFA for permission to call up Costa for the Spanish national team. He had been granted Spanish nationality earlier in the summer.
On 29 October 2013, Costa declared that he wished to play international football for Spain, sending a letter to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). Following the news, Scolari commented: "A Brazilian player who refuses to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team and compete in a World Cup in your country is automatically withdrawn. He is turning his back on a dream of millions, to represent our national team, the five-time champions in a World Cup in Brazil."
The Brazilian Football Confederation judicial director, Carlos Eugênio Lopes, said "It's obvious that the reason he made that choice was financial. The chairman [of the CBF, José Maria Marin] authorised me to open a legal action at the Justice Ministry requesting that he loses his Brazilian citizenship, which Diego Costa has rejected... The chairman told me that Costa has proved he's not fit to be part of the Scolari family, that he would contaminate the family because he's not committed to Brazil, but to Spain. He rejected his Brazilian citizenship. Marin has asked me to study the situation deeply in order to keep him from ever playing for Spain. He told me that, from now on, Costa is 'persona non grata' at the national team and that the players themselves wouldn't welcome him because of that episode".
On 28 February 2014, Vicente del Bosque included Costa in the Spain squad for a friendly against Italy.
He finally made his debut on 5 March, playing the full 90 minutes at his club ground the Vicente Calderón Stadium, as the hosts won 1–0.
Costa was named in Spain's 30-man provisional squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup,] as well as the final list which was named on 31 May.

Chelsea finally confirm the signing of Costa on 1/6/2014

Honours

Atlético Madrid
  • La Liga: 2013–14
  • UEFA Super Cup: 2010, 2012
  • Copa del Rey: 2012–13
  • UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2013-14
  • Supercopa de España: Runner-up 2013

Individual

  • Copa del Rey: Top scorer 2012–13

Kurt Zouma

Kurt Zouma (03-08-2011).jpg

Kurt Zouma (born 27 October 1994) is a French footballer who played as a centre back for Saint-Étienne in the Ligue 1.
In January 2014, he was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe.
Club Career

Saint-Étienne

Born in Lyon, Zouma has played for Saint-Étienne since 2009. On 2 April 2011, Zouma signed his first professional contract agreeing to a three-year deal. He was, subsequently, promoted to the senior team by manager Christophe Galtier ahead of the 2011–12 season. Zouma made his professional debut on 31 August 2011 in a Coupe de la Ligue match against Bordeaux. He played the entire match in a 3–1 win. On 7 November 2013, Kurt Zouma was banned for 10 games following a challenge that left Sochaux's Thomas Guerbert, with a broken right leg and a dislocated ankle.

Chelsea

On the 31st January 2014, Zouma joined Chelsea for a fee believed to be around £12 million (€14.6 million). He will remain at Saint Étienne on loan for the remainder of the 2013–14 season.

International career

Zouma is a France youth international having represented his nation at under-16 and under-17 level. He played with the under-17 team at the 2011 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship and 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. France manager, Didier Deschamps stated in an interview in April 2013 that he sees Zouma as a potential future captain of the French national side.

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