Let’s face it an outlay of £43.5million – accompanied by an annual salary just shy of £14million – isn’t small change. Not even to the mighty Manchester United. That’s why I’m not the least bit surprised Louis van Gaal and the Old Trafford board are carefully weighing up whether to retain Radamel Falcao’s services beyond his loan spell this season.
Word on the street suggests United aren’t convinced the Colombian is worth it. And, when you study what’s happened this season it’s understandable that the Premier League giants are getting twitchy feet.
On the back of a serious knee injury a series of niggling aches and strains have limited his appearances, the Colombian was axed by Louis van Gaal for the recent clash at home to Southampton for ‘tactical reasons,’ and his record of three goals and three assists from eight starts, is a decent but not exactly dazzling return. At 28, his potential sell-on value isn’t great either, so if Manchester United are starting to have second thoughts, it does add up.
If it were my decision though, I’d still take the plunge and sign him.
Actually, I’d go further than that. I’d bring him in full-time AND build the team’s tactics around the style of play Radamel Falcao relishes. I mean, if you’re going to splash out all that cash on a forward in his prime why wouldn’t you tailor your tactics to ensure it brought the best out of him?
Right now that’s not happening.
The Colombian has always been a centre forward who thrives on quick service, lethally latching on to passes and crosses that are fired into the box. At club or international level, whenever his teammates have delivered those early centres into the penalty area (before a defence has got themselves set) Falcao has gobbled up goal, after goal, after goal. It’s the reason he’s regarded as a world-class front man.
With 72 goals in 87 appearances for Porto, 70 in 91 for Atletico Madrid and 13 in 22 for Monaco, his track record is fabulous. Whether it’s with his left foot, right foot or head, he’s proven how deadly he can be when given the right ammunition.
Is he getting the right supply line at Manchester United this season? Not a chance. Van Gaal’s 3-1-4-2 is grinding out results but they are still a work in progress. Sometimes slow and predictable in their build-ups, players are taking two and three touches inside the final third, when Falcao is looking for them to tee him up in one.
Last weekend at QPR we caught a glimpse of what’s possible when early crosses are fizzed across the face of goal. OK, he missed a couple of good chances but Falcao might easily have netted four and on another day, I’m convinced he would have done.
The South American’s clever movement and natural instinct for where to sniff out a goal is second to none.
He just needs better service, and that will come once Van Gaal’s side settles into a more confident pattern of play; which they will.
To date you couldn’t argue that the £11.3million Manchester United have spent on Falcao in wages and fees has been worth it. It hasn’t. In response though, I’d ask this…
Who else could they sign that has his quality and pedigree in front of goal?
When I look around at realistic options in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue One, I don’t see anyone better, that wouldn’t cost just as much or more.
World-class centre forwards don’t grow on trees, which is why they get paid the big bucks.
Buying anyone for huge money is always a risk, but if it’s goals Manchester United want (and which club doesn’t want plenty of those) then I think they already have a player that’s capable of scoring a mountain of goals for them. They just need to learn how to play to his strengths.
Should they stick or twist, with the Colombian? I say stick.
They’ll struggle to find a better marksman.