Manchester United fans are starting to get excited over the potential signing of Colombian striker Radamel Falcao. The player the fans of the Premier League club are hoping to sign is the forward that was a deadly force in front of goal for FC Porto and Atletico Madrid in both the league and Europa League.
However, the player that United will be receiving is not quite the one that they remember from those days.
When the Colombian striker made the decision to join Monaco’s new revolution in Ligue 1, it was a move that had great risk attached to it. Monaco had only just won promotion back to Ligue 1 and there would be no European football for at least 12 months.
In his first seven league games for the Monegasque side, Falcao started like a house of fire, by scoring seven goals, and then the challenge of Ligue 1 took effect.
Over the next seven games he only scored twice, his record still stood at nine goals in 14 games, but questions were beginning to be asked over his ability to become the superstar that Monaco had hoped.
It became clear very quickly that Falcao had begun to struggle against the physical nature of French football. Monaco had started the season playing 4-4-2 under Claudio Ranieri, the support of Emmanuel Riviere and both Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and James Rodriguez from the wide areas, helped provide the ammunition for Falcao.
As the formation changed to 4-2-3-1, the support for Falcao disappeared and so did the goals. Even before his injury in January, Falcao’s season had turned sour well before this. In November when Monaco travelled away to Nantes, the striker had an awful game. He looked isolated and lone upfront, and after 63 minutes, Ranieri took the decision to remove him from the game.
His reaction has been well documented; he couldn’t believe he was being brought off, whereas everyone watching was surprised it hadn’t happened sooner.
There are two factors that have to be looked at. Falcao is not the type of striker that is going to create his own chances. The team, tactics and game plan must be set up to make sure you get the very best out of the striker. Do not expect him to create moments of magic, like Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, expect him to wait for Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata to put them on a plate.
He is reminiscent of Chelsea new boy Diego Costa. He makes the runs, the off the ball movement is superb, his finishing is superb. However, Manchester United has to hope they have the players to create those chances for him.
Monaco is a tough place to play. There is absolutely no atmosphere at the Stade Louis II. You have to be extremely motivated to play every home game without that roar. Especially coming from Porto and Atletico and the vocal home support both those sides receive.
Old Trafford commands a huge home support every game, but the atmosphere has changed somewhat and it is not the cauldron that it should be. There is no doubt that it will be better than Monaco’s but still not quite what Falcao thrives on.
No matter what the fine details are, this is a huge risk from Manchester United. If they can unleash the Falcao that entertained us all through his Europa League campaigns, then he can fire United back up the table. If they get the version Ligue 1 fans have been watching since he signed last summer, it could bring even more misery than they are experiencing at the moment.