Is Radamel Falcao Worth Manchester United Shelling Out 44m And Bumper Wages For A Permanent Deal
When Radamel Falcao stepped off of his private jet, having touched down in England on the final day of the summer transfer window, his signing was widely-regarded as a coup for Manchester United.
Following a miserable seventh-place finish in 2013-14, the arrival of Louis van Gaal and a host of expensive new “Gaalacticos” including £28million Ander Herrera, Southampton prodigy Luke Shaw and Real Madrid and Argentina star Angel Di Maria beckoned a new era.
But it was the loan signing of the prolific Colombian which really set pulses racing. Arguably the best No.9 in world football over the past two-three years – the man who had helped kick-start Diego Simeone”s Atletico Madrid revolution with his goalscoring exploits, having fired Andre Villas-Boas” Porto to an sensational treble – Falcao”s arrival looked set to provide United with a razor-sharp attacking edge, particularly with Robin van Persie apparently on the wane after last term.
Radamel Falcao at former clubs (Apps/Goals)
Sure he was coming back from a serious knee injury which had ended his World Cup dream, but two goals in three matches for Monaco at the start of the new campaign had hinted that he was back in business; he looked rough and in need of sharpness, but when the ball entered the pen alty area, he was back sniffing out chances.
Yes, United were paying mammoth wages. Yes the loan fee was sizeable. And yes, they allowed both Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck to depart, to make space for Falcao and the emerging youngster James Wilson. But the maths had been done and it made sense: A world-class striker, to fire the 20-time English title winners back into the Champions League.
At present, Louis van Gaal”s men may well be back in Europe”s top tier next term. After Saturday”s 2-0 win at QPR, they sit fourth, two points off the top three (automatic qualification) a few points clear of Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool.
A title challenge is out of reach, as both Chelsea and Manchester City are simply too strong and too good. But being back among Europe”s elite next term is very much a possibility for the Red Devils.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether Falcao will still be with them?
GettyStruggles: Falcao has just three goals in 14 appearances for United so far
His full debut came in the 5-3 loss at Leicester, before he started in home wins against both West Ham and Everton, scoring in the latter. Pretty quickly talk was turning to making his move permanent and how settled he was feeling.
Curiously however, with speculation circling over his knee problems and his recovery time after games, he was dropped to the bench for the draw at West Brom, before missing four successive matches through a calf injury. Suddenly, the talk was of proving himself and of van Gaal”s doubts.
He returned to action in the 3-0 win over Hull City, albeit as a substitute, and remained out of the first XI for the next three matches too. United won each match, scoring 10 goals in the process, with Falcao offered just 44 minutes to show his worth.
Since then he has returned for six starts in seven games, but it was his being dropped for the 1-0 home defeat by Southampton – not even featuring in the matchday squad – which provoked headlines.
Afterwards, his agent, the most pre-eminent of football”s money men Jorge Mendes, admitted he didn”t know where Falcao stood with the club: “The truth is, right now we don’t know what will happen. What we do know is that he will play in one of the very best clubs in the world next season, whether that is Manchester United or not."
Radamel Falcao – Manchester United career
All of the above have played their part in Falcao”s permanent move to United seemingly being turned from a “when” to an “if”. The nagging injury concern, the lack of goals, the being 29 next month and the results achieved without him; it makes a mammoth transfer package seem less than tangible.
But against QPR this weekend, while there was no fourth Premier League goal forthcoming for Falcao, perhaps there was a sign that things may soon start clicking for the Colombian.
On another day Falcao walks away from Loftus Road with the match ball. Certainly he missed chances – his first half shot should have left Green with no chance, likewise his unmarked second-half header – and he was denied a tap-in by Steven Caulker”s overstretched toe, but he was in the position.
In pictures – QPR 0-2 Manchester United:
Watch the first chance, where he makes three separate movements to both stay on side and offer Juan Mata an option for the forward pass; it”s magnificent movement, and the R”s defence has no clue where he is.
Throw in that so far this term he has a goal every 201 minutes – better than van Persie (every 207 minutes) – and that only Wayne Rooney and di Maria have more Premier League assists for United, and it”s quite the conundrum that United face.
Because you have to think that from this point on, now more than a year since his injury, that the striker is only going to get better. With regular action, as this new-look United becomes more cohesive, as the likes of Falcao, Rooney and Di Maria become more in-tune to one another”s movements, then El Tigre is only going to start scoring more frequently, and looking like his former self once more.
ReutersGoalscorer: Falcao celebrates his goal against Stoke
Perhaps his showing in west London on Saturday was the first sign. Then again, maybe his misses were something more sinister and that, rather than a return to top form, a Fernando Torres-like drop off is in his future. Not all strikers hit their peak at 28/29; some have had their best days long before then.
Thus, Louis van Gaal, Ed Woodward and the rest of the United hierarchy face one hell of a conundrum where Falcao is concerned – even more so when you think he could potentially end with a Premier League rival if he doesn”t stay with United.
Whatever the thoughts of the future, it”s going to be a big four months for United, as they seek to get back among Europe”s elite.
Likewise, it”s going to be a big four months in the career of Radamel Falcao. Career-defining? Perhaps. He needs to justify any potential outlay, and he needs to do it quickly, with goals. And lots of them.
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