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Cristiano Ronaldo’s five-goal haul & what it means for Manchester United flop’s future

As Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo scored an incredible five goals in one match this weekend in a 9-1 demolition of Granada in La Liga, one couldn’t help but remember the time another player grabbed the headlines with a similarly fantastic feat – Radamel Falcao.

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Yes, the same Falcao that has managed fewer goals in this whole season than Ronaldo did in 90 minutes yesterday, or than he himself managed in that majestic performance against Deportivo La Coruna in 2012.

The Colombian international has no doubt endured a torrid time since moving on loan to Manchester United from AS Monaco, with last season’s lengthy injury layoff looking like doing some serious damage to his fitness and form, while who knows what missing what was likely his last chance at a World Cup has done to his confidence.

What next for the 29-year-old? A permanent transfer to United seems highly unlikely given his rumoured bad relationship with Louis van Gaal, while four goals and four assists in 23 appearances is the kind of slump that immediately has echoes of the kind of rapid decline suffered by Fernando Torres after switching Liverpool for Chelsea; sometimes world class players just don’t recover.

And yet, there is speculation that Liverpool are interested in taking him on loan from Monaco next season. Could it be that, actually, class is permanent and that there is still a wonderful player in there somewhere? One still capable of matching a superstar like Ronaldo in terms of individual goalscoring brilliance?

It’s fair to say Falcao would not be the first to struggle to perform or to have his confidence wrecked by the controversial van Gaal, and he won’t be the last. United’s static style of play this season, as well, is perhaps not as well suited to his penalty-box poaching as, say, Liverpool’s faster and more ambitious approach at Anfield might be. Perhaps Brendan Rodgers will fancy his chances of re-awakening that world class striker, in the same way that he has turned around the careers of players like Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, who arrived on Merseyside after being snubbed by bigger clubs as not good enough to play regularly.

It is a gamble, and as Mario Balotelli’s time at Liverpool will show you, some of those just don’t pay off. Still, five goals in one game reminds you of what an exceptional talent Falcao once was – the fact that he got there before Ronaldo is an achievement in itself.

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