How Will Falcao Fit In At Van Gaal’s Man Utd?
Premier League 2014/15
Transfer deadline day looked set to be dominated by a three-way battle between Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs to sign Monaco striker Radamel Falcao.
However, United have shocked the football world this morning by securing the Colombian striker’s signature.
We look at whether United really need him and where he’ll fit in.
Falcao had been heavily, and surprisingly, linked with United overnight by a series of reputable sources in France and in his homeland. The club have now beaten off interest from Manchester City, Arsenal and Real Madrid for his transfer, pending a medical later today.
Ostensibly, it would seem perverse for Louis Van Gaal to invest so much on an injury-prone 29-year-old when he has such glaring problems in central defence and midfield.
However, Robin Van Persie’s form and fitness is a major worry and Wayne Rooney’s performances so far this season have been underwhelming to say the least. United’s apparent willingness to offload one or both of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez will leave the manager short on options up-front.
It was thought that Falcao would be hesitant to forego Champions League football this season but, as the signing of Angel di Maria has already shown, United have the funds to secure world-class players desperate for a move.
City had been favourites to sign the Monaco forward, especially as Alvaro Negredo looks set for a move to Valencia. However, they faced the major stumbling block of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, with Manuel Pellegrini having to sell a number of fringe players today before singing anyone.
Arsenal fans will be heavily disappointed to miss out on his capture, particularly as it’s clear to everyone, except possibly Arsene Wenger, that a club cannot mount a serious title challenge relying on Yaya Sanogo as their main striker. The Gunners needed a striker even before Olivier Giroud’s injury but Wenger’s characteristic stubbornness probably scuppered a move for the Colombian.
That left the way clear for United to come out of left-field and capture the former Porto player on an initial one-year loan deal.
With Van Gaal seemingly set on playing two strikers, where does this leave Van Persie and Rooney?
It’s clear three into two won’t go and Rooney has voiced his displeasure before at being played out of position. Van Gaal’s healthy relationship with Van Persie could be severely tested as it looks like the Dutch striker could be the one to be affected most by this deal. He’s looked a long way from full fitness so far this season and, despite his incredible diving header against Spain, had a relatively disappointing World Cup.
However, many United fans will welcome the move as a potential wake-up call to Wayne Rooney. The England striker seems to be coasting of late and his touch has looked poor in the first three games of the league campaign.
Nevertheless, it seems unlikely Van Gaal will drop his new captain, particularly with is £300,000 per week wages, but his form will have to improve to see off the challenge of his new Colombian team-mate.
Juan Mata’s equally disappointing form, along with Shinji Kagawa’s exit, could mean Rooney will be asked to play more often in the number ten role than as an out-and-out striker.
The shock signing makes Van Gaal’s project at United even more interesting. His signings of Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Angel di Maria, Daley Blind and now Falcao possibly make it United’s busiest transfer window ever.
However, whether it’ll be their most successful remains to be seen.
One of his greatest challenges will be fitting Falcao, and the others, into a successful system and it seems unlikely that his much-hyped 3-5-2 is the way forward with the players at his disposal. Whatever happens, Falcao’s capture alone is a marked improvement on the sole acquisition of Marouane Fellaini this day twelve months ago.