As the summer transfer window rolls on, strikers have quickly hit the top of the agenda, with every big club looking to improve their team by adding a world-class finisher.
Manchester City have already added Roque Santa Cruz (£18 million) and Carlos Tevez (£25 million) to their squad, with another £25 million believed to be heading Arsenal’s way in exchange for the services of Emmanuel Adebayor.
In Spain, Real Madrid have already spent money on attracting French striker Karim Benzema to their ranks, hoping the former Olympique Lyon hitman will be the focal point of the Madrid attack that will also feature £80 million Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real, along with arch-rivals Barcelona, have also been consistently linked with Valencia striker David Villa. The Spanish international is highly coveted by clubs throughout Europe, but the Mestalla-based club are taking a hardline stance in negotiations in order to get the best deal possible for their talisman.
Down the big club’s lists, however, and so far failing to gain serious interest, is a player that — on recent form — is arguably the superior of all the aforementioned names — Diego Forlan.
Some clubs, most notably Barcelona, have flirted with the Uruguayan striker but have yet to get serious with their intentions.
“It is not strange to me that Joan Laporta [Barcelona’s president] says he likes Forlan, as we have known that for a long time,” said Forlan’s agent, Daniel Bolotnicoff, recently. “But the reality is that there has been no offer[s], and we are calm. Barcelona have at no time made contact with us. Laporta has made no movement for Forlan.”
Elsewhere, the top clubs in England seem prepossessed with a move for Atletico’s other talented striker, Sergio “Kun” Aguero, although the club’s valuation of the player might prove an insurmountable obstacle.
Yet it is the Uruguayan striker, and not his Argentinean teammate, who currently holds the Pichichi, the award given to the top scorer in La Liga, having beaten both Villa and another highly sought-after striker, Samuel Eto’o, to the crown last season.
In the 2008-09 season, Forlan scored a fantastic 32 goals in 33 league games, capping yet another great season in Spain for the former Manchester United striker.
Forlan arrived at Manchester United with an impressive reputation, but a poor return of just 17 goals in 120 games (although some of those proved vitally important) saw the £6.9 million signing’s stock plummet.
Indeed, the man once dubbed “Diego Forlorn” around Old Trafford has become virtually unrecognizable ever since he was offloaded to Villarreal in 2004 for a reported sum of just £3 million.
Forlan won the Pichichi in his first season with the Villarreal club, helping the club to its first-ever Champions League qualification.
The Uruguayan international went on to score 54 goals in 103 games for the club before Atletico Madrid came calling with a sizeable €21 million offer for his services.
In two seasons with the capital club, Forlan has notched 48 goals in just 69 games — a record that compares favorably with anyone else in Spain or Europe.
But that hasn’t been enough to make him the focus of Europe’s biggest clubs.
For many, the memory of his underwhelming period at United acts as a deterrent to any transfer bid.
For his part, Forlan is remarkably sanguine about the failures of his career:
“Every coach has his own players,” Forlan said. “Maybe I was not the player that Sir Alex [Ferguson] liked, which is fair enough. He can choose — that’s why he’s the manager.”
For the others, Forlan’s age is the problem. The 30-year-old doesn’t look like an attractive proposition considering the limited number of years left in his career, particularly for English clubs concerned by his failure to adapt to the Premier League, when his 21-year-old teammate Aguero could be purchased for just a slightly higher fee.
But more so than most players currently being bandied about in the rumor pages of newspapers, Forlan’s record should excite any club serious about their aspirations — and with the money to back it up.
Aside from his formidable goal-scoring record, the Montevideo-born man is a truly two-footed finisher — last season he scored 16 goals with his right foot and 15 with his left — with a knack for producing the spectacular.
Forlan doesn’t just rely on his teammates for goals, either. He has often created his own openings out of nothing. As deadly inside the box as he can be 30 yards out, Spanish defenses have had five years to nullify Forlan’s threat and have so far failed miserably.
Content to stay with Atletico, who will enter the Champions League in the playoff round this year, Forlan would nonetheless be intrigued by a second opportunity to prove his worth with a European heavyweight.
“Diego is at Atletico, very happy there because he has been treated wonderfully,” his father Pablo told Spanish station COM radio this week. “But, without a doubt, playing in a team like Barca would interest any player.”
It might interest him, but it looks like Forlan will have to wait until the future of players he has regularly outscored — particularly Eto’o and Villa — is resolved before he can mull over any proposals of his own.
All things considered, a transfer this summer looks unlikely.
“In football, you cannot predict what will happen,” Pablo admitted, “but neither myself nor Diego want to talk about something that has not happened. He is happy at Atletico.”
And Atletico are happy to have him.
Alex Dimond is a columnist forBleacher Report, the open source sports network.