Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria & The Premier League Flops Of The Season


Oh for the unadulterated hope of the season's dawn. Think back to August, when all Premier League teams were born equal and all big-name stars were poised to wreak genius. Back then, everybody was a contender.

Those pure and innocent days have long gone. Midway into March the harsh realities of life in the big league loom large and it turns out Leicester, QPR and Burnley weren't born equal after all.

As for those big-name superstars, a fair number have stayed true to their billing. Diego Costa has scored goals and played street thug, Alexis Sanchez has been Arsenal's best player in very tight shorts and Graziano Pelle has been Southampton's...Pele - to name but a few.

Others have made less compelling arguments. Here are my five biggest Premier League flops of the season so far.

 

1. Mario Balotelli

Liverpool v Hull City - Premier League : News Photo

Thirteen games, 48 shots, one goal. We could dance around the topic and say Balotelli's temperament hasn't lent itself to Brendan Rodgers' demands for players to put a shift in. Or we could just be blunt and say the maverick Italian has been rubbish.

Is there still time for Mario to save his season? If his goals secure a Champions League spot, Liverpool win the FA Cup and Balotelli remembers how to play football it's entirely possible.

Will any of those three things happen? The first two are possible, but we've less faith in the third based on the evidence of the season so far.

 

2. Angel Di Maria

Manchester United v Arsenal - FA Cup Quarter Final : News Photo

"Di Maria, here he goes again. Angel, how can he assist you."

Back when Manchester United fans penned their awful, Abba-inspired ode to Di Maria there was genuine hope he'd be the catalyst for their resurgence this season. 

Here was a tough, travelled Argentine who'd been a key player in Real Madrid's Champions League triumph just a few months before. What could possibly go wrong?

Getting burgled didn't help, but Di Maria's form had been trailing off long before that unfortunate episode. He's looked a man strangely at odds with his reputation of late - a wistful, dreamy waif unable to make an impact.

It's not good enough and he surely knows it. Perhaps that why he tugged an official's shirt to earn himself a nice little ban.

 

3. Radamel Falcao

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League : News Photo

We stay in Manchester to visit the sorry tale of Radamel Falcao - a striker who could have caught the moon on the end of his toe two seasons ago, but can now barely catch an appearance from the bench.

Falcao played for United's Under-21s on Tuesday night, and even then "struggled to have an impact" according to reports at ESPN FC.

Watching Falcao this season has taken United fans back to the early days of Diego Forlan at Old Trafford. It's as if an actor who looks exactly like the Colombian has been smuggled into the United squad and asked to score goals.

If the Forlan story tells us anything it's that Falcao will probably turn up somewhere next season and bag 30.

Miguel Delaney on How Wenger's Surprise Decisions Left More Questions To Answer For Van Gaal

 

4. Roberto Soldado

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League : News Photo

It's tough being a striker, especially when you've scored one goal in 18 Premier League appearances and your club paid £26 million to make you their record signing.

Roberto Soldado's profligacy has become the stuff of viral sensation. If he doesn't score, he's blasted. If he does, he's blasted. His only sanctuary is to stay on the bench and hope Mauricio Pochettino doesn't bring him on. Ever.

Fortunately for Soldado, the hurricane that is Harry Kane has been blowing through White Hart Lane this season and distracting us somewhat from the fact he's a striker who can't score goals. We'll remember soon enough.

 

5. Adam Lallana

FBL-ENG-LCUP-LIVERPOOL-CHELSEA : News Photo

Back to Liverpool for my fifth and final choice. There's an argument for Manchester City's Eliaquim Mangala, but I've gone for Lallana as he was Premier League ready and it's easy to forget they paid £25 million for the England winger.

Lallana just hasn't happened at Liverpool. He's been neat, worked hard and put in the yards, but we've seen barely a glimpse of the player who was tearing through defences in a Southampton shirt.

It's not Lallana's fault he cost £25 million, but at the same time he has to be judged on the criteria of a big-time signing. And given that criteria he's fallen quite spectacularly short this season, which makes him a flop.

 

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