The Red Devils took the footballing world by complete surprise yesterday when they seemingly snatched away the Columbian sensation from the grasp of local rivals Manchester City. Falcao only joined AS Monaco last summer in a deal worth €60 million, but after an impressive start he suffered a serious knee injury in January that kept him out for the remainder of the Ligue 1 season and the World Cup.
Nicknamed 'Le Tigre', Falcao was United's seventh and final signing of the summer yesterday, joining Dutch utility man Daley Blind who also signed on transfer deadline day. The pair take Louis van Gaal's spending this summer to just over £150 million, which is a record spend from one club in a single transfer window.
With the vast array of options United had upfront, you could imagine how much of a shock it was to see the club eyeing up another centre-forward. However with both Javier Hernandez moving to Real Madrid and Danny Welbeck to Arsenal, it would have left only Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney as United's only senior strikers. So Falcao's arrival beefs up the options and competition, then of course you have the highly-regarded young talent that is James Wilson who might get a chance as fourth choice.
This hasn't stopped United receiving criticism though; many are of the view that signing Falcao creates further imbalance in the squad, when other areas desperately need reinforcing. The club's poor start to the season has exposed them in all areas, with defence and midfield looking the most fragile. However after the two-week international break Van Gaal will have significantly more options; defensive signings Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw will come in, and midfield signing Ander Herrera should return from injury.
So what is Radamel Falcao going to bring to United and is he an improvement on what they already had at their disposal?
First of all the 28-year-old will bring goals, that is a guarantee. His goalscoring record throughout his career has been phenomenal; 200 goals in 305 games for River Plate, Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco. A devout Christian, Falcao has proven himself to be one of the best strikers in the world when fully fit, and during his two seasons in Madrid he tore the La Liga apart, scoring 52 in 68 appearances. In the statistics graph below we've compared Rooney, Van Persie and Falcao's three seasons in their respective leagues since 2011.
|Team||Pos||Chances Created||Goal Assist||Goals||Mins / Goal||Apps|
|Wayne Rooney||Man Utd||FW||158||24||57||133||93|
|Robin van Persie||Man Utd||FW||180||21||68||120||99|
From the statistics you can instantly tell Falcao is as direct a striker as you're going to get. The Columbian is the type who is going to finish off attacking moves, and more often than not he is going to make chances for himself to score, rather than supply his team-mates. He will give United a cutting edge in front of goal, which isn't something they lack as they already have Van Persie, however at 31-years-old the Dutch captain isn't getting any younger, and also his fitness has been called into question a few times in the past year.
Whilst Rooney and Van Persie create more chances than Falcao, his minutes per goal ratio is marginally better than both of theirs despite playing fewer games. In his 17 appearances for Monaco last season he scored nine goals, which is a decent return when you consider he was playing in a new team with less quality players. Had he not suffered a knee injury, his ratio suggests he would have scored a minimum of 20 goals in his Ligue 1 debut season.
Some have classed Falcao as a typical 'poacher' but he is so much more than that, and some of the fantastic goals he has scored prove it. He's a pure striker that possesses pace, power and aggression and is capable of scoring from anywhere on the pitch. Falcao can use either foot is much more athletic than both of United's current strikers; despite being only 5ft 10 the South American is lethal in the air and Manchester United fans can expect to see many headed and acrobatic goals from their new number nine.
Falcao's record and stats suggest that he is at present a better option upfront than either Rooney or Van Persie, who are also world class strikers, but haven't showed anything like their best form during this season or last. Of course United would not have needed the Columbian had Hernandez and Welbeck stayed, but as it turns out they did not. Falcao has been brought in on a very shrewd loan deal so there is little risk if things don't work as expected. If it does work, then United's attack might strike fear into Premier League defenders once again.