Was this the clue United were preparing for Falcao three weeks ago?

Did Manchester United drop a subtle hint in mid-August that Radamel Falcao was on his way to the club?

It came as a surprise to many when, on transfer deadline day, reports began circulating that Radamel Falcao had agreed a move to Manchester United.

The initial claims were of a four-year, €65million transfer from AS Monaco, but it later transpired that the Colombian was arriving on a season-long loan move.

It caught plenty on the hop, with the 28-year-old tipped to join United’s fierce rivals Manchester City. And it would go on to become the biggest story of the day and arguably the greatest coup of the entire transfer window.

But with Falcao later revealing that talks had been ongoing about a possible move for months, did United give a subtle clue that they were holding out for a new front-man nearly three weeks before he arrived?

Back on August 13 United released their new squad numbers for the upcoming season, and while Adnan Januzaj was given the iconic number 11 shirt, the number seven and number nine shirts were left vacant.

United showed they were not afraid to give young players numbers of great significance when Januzaj took that previously worn by Ryan Giggs. But despite the presence of plenty of other talented youngsters, the other two famous numbers remained free.

It was always expected that a new midfielder would be brought in to take the number seven shirt, and so it proved when Angel Di Maria arrived. But the vacant number nine shirt gave a tantalising – if unnoticed – clue that Louis van Gaal was not completely happy with his options up front.

A few weeks later, Falcao arrived and took that very shirt, leaving no number of note free as United face a campaign that is arguably their biggest in years.

Will the Colombian do the number justice? If he continues his previous outstanding form, it seems there can only be one answer.

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