With Chelsea understood to be favourites to win the race for the 26-year-old next summer, Mancini’s presence at Atletico’s 2-1 weekend victory over Malaga, in which Falcao scored his eighth goal in six La Liga games so far this season, highlighted growing interest in the former Porto striker among Europe’s leading clubs.
Mancini’s visit to Estadio Vicente Calderon has done little to unsettle Atletico, however, with president Enrique Cerezo insisting that the club’s position on the player is unchanged.
"We know that Mancini has come to watch, but we are calm on the subject of Falcao.” Cerezo said. “I suppose Mancini is here to look for a house in Malaga!"
Having underlined his billing as one of the world’s leading strikers by scoring a hat-trick against Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup in August, Falcao has continued to embellish his reputation by guiding Atletico to joint top of La Liga alongside Barcelona.
With his hat-trick against Chelsea, Falcao’s 11 goals in 7 appearances in all competitions give him a strike-rate of 1.5 goals-a-game -- better than both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi -- and have prompted former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster to claim, ‘right now, Falcao is like Messi and Ronaldo, from another planet.’
Chelsea’s interest in Falcao is long-standing, dating back to Andre Villas-Boas’s reign as manager, and the European champions are believed to be Falcao’s favoured destination next summer, when Atletico are expected to sell for a figure in the region of £45m.
But with uncertainty over the long-term futures of Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko
and Mario Balotelli at the Etihad Stadium,
However, Atletico are determined to hold onto Falcao, who scored 36 goals last season, until the summer in order boost the Europa League holders’ prospects of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.