From La Masia in search of a club: The strange story of Iago Falque

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The excitement in the tweet was palpable, with Spain’s fourth division team social media manager SD Compostela filling in photos and exclamation marks for the latest first team training update.

It reads: “New session for us to prepare for the derby against Arosa SC !!! A session at which Iago Falque was also present !!!”

Pure fun is evident that a local hero, a son of Galicia who left to play for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, returned home to his local squad to maintain his fitness while looking for a new team in January. .

Yet for Falque, once in the academy books of Real Madrid and Barcelona, ​​signed by Juventus and Tottenham among others during his career, this represents the lowest point to date in the fall of an ancient prodigy.

Now 31, much was expected of Falque as a teenager, and he has had a more than respectable and, at times, very successful career at the highest level of European football. has not reached the heights that at one point seemed to be its trajectory.

After joining Real Madrid at the age of 10, he transferred to Barcelona a year later and learned his footballing profession at La Masia. However, he did not fall for professional teams and was instead signed by Juve from Barca in 2008.

Falque signed a four-year contract at Turin, and Juve could have paid up to € 2.5million (£ 2.1million / $ 2.8million) in compensation had he reached his goals and match goals, but he never made his first team appearance for the former The Lady.

In August 2011, Falque was instead loaned to Spurs, whose manager Harry Redknapp made the transfer permanent under a € 1million (£ 850,000 / $ 1.1million) deal the following January. .

There was great expectation going into this loan, with hopes that Spurs could have La Masia’s next big shot even if he hadn’t made a breakthrough there or at Juve.

“Iago loves big challenges and that’s very important with Spurs,” said the player’s agent and father, Iago Falque Snr. Air sports at the time. “It will be hard, but he will fight for his place.”

To learn the English game, Falque was immediately loaned to Southampton in the Championship but after the Saints suffered a 0-2 home loss to Leicester on his debut he never played for them again.

Falque returned to Tottenham, where he made his only Premier League appearance in December 2012 – a five-minute substitute in a 2-1 loss to Everton.

He was the stereotype of a young European player who was not suited to English football, a skilled technician with excellent close control, confidence in his dribbling and a breathtaking first touch.

Often deployed on the right wing but eager to cut inside on his favorite left foot to create shooting chances, comparisons to Lionel Messi are more appropriate than the usual Barcelona-based lazy pairs.

Iago Falque Jermain Defoe Andre Villas-Boas Tottenham

Yet there was also indecision, a regular habit of dribbling down dead ends and not picking the right pass, ensuring that he would frustrate impatient fans and managers.

He impressed when he received the confidence of coaches – such as later on loan at Rayo Vallecano in La Liga and in his first year with Genoa – however, often managers working under constant pressure would not give in to a such mercurial talent.

Admittedly, Falque didn’t enjoy his time in England at all, admitting in a 2018 interview that it had all been too, too young.

“Maybe the move to Tottenham was not a wise move on my part,” he said. “It was the only step back in my career.

“In the end, bad experiences also allow you to grow and mature. It was the momentum of my career that made me sign and the competition was very tough.”

Subsequently, he was sent back to Spain on loans to Almeria and Rayo for 18 months, before a definitive return to Italy with Genoa in 2014, where, at 25, he finally returned to form and regular football.

Playing under Gian Piero Gasperini – who has since turned Atalanta into a Champions League force – he played on the right wing of a 3-4-3 and started to look like the long-awaited prodigy .

He has scored 13 goals in 32 Serie A appearances, helping Genoa to sixth place, although a UEFA licensing issue prevented them from qualifying for Europe. At first Spurs seemed to have gotten a good deal by whipping him for € 5million (£ 4.3million / $ 5.6million) – Genoa quickly seemed to have struck a good deal.

Finally showing his potential, he got another top shot with Roma as he left in search of European competition, but after a disappointing season was loaned to Turin for the 2016-17 campaign, making the deal permanent at the end of the campaign.

Falque was caught out again as he was among the best in the game – his nadir came in a 6-1 Champions League group stage loss to Barcelona, ​​where he barely completed the half of his passes to hinder rather than help the team’s cause.

Falque first returned to form in Turin, but gradually faded from the first-team picture, and after disappointing loan spells first at Genoa and then at Benevento, he was released this summer and is still without a full-time contract.

Instead, after almost six months of inactivity, he trained with Compostela, a club that plays in Group I of Division Segunda, Spain’s fourth division.

It’s hard to call Falque a failure, given he has played 177 games in the Italian top flight so far and scored some excellent goals.

But with such innate talent and having been tempted by so many top European clubs, it feels like he could have produced a lot more so far.



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