If the spectre of Financial Fair Play (FFP) hadn’t been looming over Manchester City this summer, they would almost certainly have made a more sustained attempt to sign Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid.
The Colombian, one of the most feared strikers on the planet, eventually joined newly promoted French side Monaco in one of the more bizarre transfers of recent times and is already showing why he was one of the most sought-after players in Europe this year.
A Manchester City side with Falcao up front would be a potentially devastating prospect.
He has three goals in his first four Ligue 1 games, after scoring 28 goals in La Liga last season. He struck 70 times in 88 games for Atletico before his €60 million transfer in May (via Daily Mail) and has 17 international goals to his name.
At 27, he is a prolific striker, boasting pace and strength in abundance. His hat-trick in Atletico's 4-1 win over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup last August capped a quite brilliant performance that saw David Luiz and Gary Cahill chasing shadows throughout.
City and Chelsea were continually linked with his signature last season, but a move to the Premier League never materialised. The cost of signing Falcao was huge, with ESPN reporting that on top of the eye-watering fee, the striker was offered a five-year contract worth €14 million per season.
With UEFA threatening European expulsion for clubs failing to comply with FFP, City backed out of the deal and looked elsewhere for better value. The heady days of big spending are seemingly over, with City's more prudent approach now in full swing.
But Falcao is a player worth paying big money for. The very best players require clubs to pay a premium, and Falcao certainly falls into that bracket.
City scored 93 goals during their title-winning season of 2011-12, yet managed just 66 last year as they struggled to keep pace with Manchester United. The signing of Robin van Persie was the catalyst for United's excellent form, and Falcao would almost certainly have had a similar impact at City. He is a lethal striker who guarantees goals.
City instead opted for Alvaro Negredo, who joined from Sevilla in a deal worth just over £20 million (via Daily Mail) He will score goals for the club, however, he doesn't possess anywhere near the same quality as Falcao.
Negredo is an out-and-out forward who scores 20 goals a season by virtue of his natural No. 9 instincts, but he is liable to miss chances too. Falcao is quicker and technically far more gifted that the Spain forward and is better in front of goal.
City's desire for financial self-sufficiency means the days of handing out huge contracts to mediocre players are gone. Their fans should be pleased about that, but when one of the very best players in world football becomes available, it's in the club's interest to sign them.
By signing a player of Falcao's stature, a club sends a signal out to the rest of the football world that they mean business. Radamel Falcao is a player of the highest order and City's chances of silverware would have greatly increased with him in the side.
Only time will tell whether their more cut-price approach reaps the rewards they crave.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity
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