The curious case of Radamel Falcao: Man Utd claim age rumours were ‘never an issue’

Manchester United were aware of rumours questioning Radamel Falcao’s age before signing him, though it was ‘never an issue’, the club have confirmed.

Reports resurfaced over the weekend claiming United’s star signing, who they captured on deadline-day, is 30, not 28.

It is believed Falcao’s camp provided the club with documents proving the Colombian’s real age to seemingly put United officials at ease ove an issue that has dogged him throughout his career.

However, a statement from Manchester United confirmed: “We were aware of the rumours but it was never an issue for us.”

The Colombian striker joined the Red Devils on a season-long loan from Monaco in a deal believed to be worth in the region of £15million.

The birth date on Falcao’s passport states his date of birth to be February 10, 1986, and was used to complete his £280,000-a-week contract and work-permit.

Rumours first began to circulate when it was alleged that Falcao, who was playing for River Plate in Argentina, doctored his age so he could play at the Under-20 World Cup in 2005.

In 2012, Falcao’s former school leaked documents claiming he was born in 1984, subsequently causing his family to release his birth certificate to the media.

Age fraud has been a problem in football for many years, with players attempting to cheat or find a way to quickly climb the career ladder, and is common among certain African nations.

Prior to the 2009 under-17 World Cup, FIFA announced new measures to test the age of players, which caused Nigeria to subsequently drop 15 players from their squad.

The issue first presented itself in the Premier League in the 1990s as clubs began looking at emerging African players.

Previous Premiership stars such as Obafemi Martins and Nwankwo Kanu, both from Nigeria, were accused of lying about their age at various points in their careers.

Before moving to Newcastle in 2006, the Nigerian Football Federation claimed Martins was actually born in 1978, though his player registration stated it was 1984.

Former Chelsea and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto’o has also had to contest accusations of  throughout his careers.

Last February, the Cameroon striker was even teased by his manager, Jose Mourinho, who was unaware he was being filmed when he made the remarks in Switzerland.

“The problem with Chelsea is we lack a scorer,” the Chelsea manager said. “I have one [Eto’o] but he’s 32. Maybe 35, who knows?”

When the Cameroonian departed the club, reportedly upset by his manager’s comments, Mourinho sought a replacement in the shape of 25-year-old Diego Costa.

However, he himself is another player caught up in the age falsification rumours after his £32million transfer from Atletico Madrid earlier this summer.

Fans and pundits have raised questions about the in-form striker’s appearance and age, and even his teammates have raised doubts.

Belgian winger Eden Hazard caused a stir when he recently suggested Costa could in fact be lying about his age.

Speaking to Soccer AM, he said: “He looks old, I think he’s old. He is 25 but I don’t know if it is true.”

The problem is not only central to the Premier League, it has also reached Serie A in Italy.

Lazio’s Joesph Minala has recently been told he can resume his career after proving he is 17 and not 42.

The Italian FA launched an investigation after claims he altered his passport and lied about his age in order to send money home to his family.

A statement after the investigation read: “The federal prosecutor has examined the report and ordered the investigation to be closed.”

Image courtesy of MUTV, via YouTube, with thanks.

Related Articles