Chelsea have agreed a financial package in principle with Monaco to secure Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan, in a move that could have an impact upon Loïc Rémy's immediate future with the Premier League champions.
Falcao, currently at the Copa América with Colombia, will make a swift return to English football following his disappointing loan spell at Manchester United last season after a fortnight of talks between his agent Jorge Mendes and the Chelsea hierarchy. The 29-year-old striker managed just four goals in 29 appearances for Louis van Gaal's side and a solitary shot on target in his final 12 Premier League games. United duly passed up the chance to make the deal permanent for £43.2m (€60m).
Chelsea would have a similar option next summer, albeit for nearer £35m (€48.7m), having agreed to pay a loan fee in the region of £4m (€5.5m) for the forward. Falcao earns £265,000 (€368,000) a week under the terms of his contract at Stade Louis II, a figure United covered last term, though it is understood he will waive a proportion of that salary to move to the Premier League champions. Chelsea's highest earner at present is Eden Hazard on around £200,000 (€278,000) a week and the new arrival is unlikely to match that salary.
Falcao’s time at Old Trafford was initially hampered by injury, though once available he rarely looked the same powerhouse who had so thrived at Porto and Atlético Madrid – not least at Chelsea’s expense in the 2012 Uefa Super Cup, when he scored a hat-trick – before suffering a serious cruciate knee ligament injury with Monaco which ruled him out of last summer’s World Cup finals. His four United goals came against Everton, Aston Villa, Stoke and Leicester, the last on 31 January, and his campaign rather petered out in frustration.
Yet José Mourinho, who shares the same agent as Falcao and has lost Didier Drogba this summer, impressed upon the Chelsea board his belief that he can coax the best from the forward. He went public in his admiration for the Colombian in an interview last week with DirecTV Sports. "I know him very well from when I was in Portugal and Spain," he said. "For a player of his level and quality, it's a real shame that people in England think Falcao is the player who was at Manchester United.
“I don’t have a close relationship with him, but it hurts me because he’s a great player. If there’s any way for me to help the English people to get to know the real Falcao, that would give me pleasure. But I don’t do the negotiations. I just tell the board, my club, the players I’m interested in.”
Talks between Mendes, Monaco and the Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, who oversees their transfer and contract negotiations, are now understood to have led to an agreement in principle even if the player is likely to require extensive medical checks once Colombia's participation in the Copa América in Chile is over. The Ligue 1 club could still seek to take players on loan from Chelsea as part of the arrangement having declared an interest in the teenage Belgium Under-21 international Charly Musonda and the Croatia midfielder Mario Pasalic.
The completion of the deal for Falcao would leave Rémy contemplating his future at Stamford Bridge, as the France striker had been seeking reassurances he would receive more playing time next year before Euro 2016. The £10.5m (€14.6m) arrival from Queens Park Rangers started only six top-flight games last season, scoring seven goals, and has attracted interest from West Ham, Crystal Palace and Lyon, from whose academy he graduated.
Palace, now overseen by Rémy's former manager at Newcastle, Alan Pardew, finished 10th last season and hope to add two or three eye-catching, established talents to their squad. They have spoken to Paris Saint-Germain about another former Newcastle player, the midfielder Yohan Cabaye, and would be prepared to offer the striker, who earns around £80,000 (€111,000) a week at present, a competitive wage.
Whether they could meet the fee required to prise Rémy away, however, remains to be seen though the fact Chelsea could potentially follow up Falcao's arrival with a £43m (€59.8m) move for Atlético's Antoine Griezmann could hasten his departure.