A tale of two transfers: Xabi Alonso is the master of his destiny, Manchester United signing Radamel Falcao a pawn in others' game

Who would bet against Bayern’s signing Alonso winning the European Cup for a third time? Falcao seemed to have little clue about where his career will take him

Radamel Falcao is brilliant at scoring goals. He is also pretty good when it comes to avoiding the Champions League.

Two seasons ago he played a massive part in putting Atletico Madrid into the competition but then left the club, missing out on a campaign in which they reached the final in May. He moved to Monaco to play in front of 8,000 supporters and no European Cup football and then, when they made it to the biggest club tournament in the world, he joined another side in European exile.

Read more: Falcao father compares striker to trousers
RVP warns Falcao he has a fight on
United will target Strootman in January

Manchester United is an obvious upgrade on Monaco but, with his Champions League draft-dodging, it is almost as if playing on the biggest stage and winning medals are not the most important things any more.

Falcao’s curious career path is in stark contrast to another player who moved during this transfer window. Xabi Alonso is approaching his 33rd birthday in November and can look back on winning the European Cup twice.

He had the courage to join Liverpool in 2004 before every other Tomas, Ricardo and Enrique was doing likewise, and his reward was a starring role in arguably the greatest final ever in 2005 as Rafa Benitez’s side came back from three goals down to beat Milan on penalties. At Real Madrid, although he missed last season’s win in the final over Atletico through suspension, he played in the 5-0 aggregate win over Bayern Munich in the semis.

Now he is at Bayern and who would bet against him winning the trophy for a third time – before Falcao has even made his debut in the knockout stage?

Alonso’s latest move is inspired by the belief that under Pep Guardiola he will play more than at Real with Carlo Ancelotti, who is obliged to pick the new signings before him. The midfielder has wasted not a single season of his career and he can take his memories of playing for three of the biggest clubs in Europe into retirement.

Xabi Alonso moved to Bayern Munich Xabi Alonso moved to Bayern Munich  

Alonso has been the master of his own destiny. Alongside him Falcao, at times, seems to have been a pawn in a bigger game. Quite why he went to Monaco last year remains a mystery. The answer perhaps lies somewhere in the uncertainty about who exactly has owned him during his career.

Back in 2011 Atletico were forced, by huge tax debts, to sell Sergio Aguero to Manchester City for €45m (£38m). They were obliged to hand over a large portion of that fee to Spain’s Inland Revenue and yet they still managed to sign Falcao for €40m (£34m) almost immediately. They could not have done it without the help of a sports investment company.

Whether that company, understood to be Doyen Sports Investment, then owned half the player or just loaned Atletico the money to buy him is not clear. Either way he was sold as soon as Monaco put their €60m (£51m) on the table.

When I spoke to Falcao before the World Cup he seemed to have a genuine passion for the game but little clue as to where his career will take him. The “Hala Madrid” tweet a day before arriving at Old Trafford sums that up.

Meanwhile, Alonso is an example of a player who always took his own decisions and always for football reasons. He did it for the glory, which as someone once said, is what the game is all about.

Cristiano Ronaldo on his way next?

Cristiano Ronaldo told Real Madrid precisely what he thought of their transfer policy this week with an “I would have done it differently if I were in charge” shot across the bows of the big-spending, big-selling European champions.

Cristiano Ronaldo during his time at United Cristiano Ronaldo during his time at United  

Once a player starts publicly questioning Real there can only be one endgame. If at the end of the season Manchester United are still buying strikers for record fees don’t rule out an emotional return.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence