Falcao v RvP: Is the two time Europa-winner an upgrade to the flying Dutchman?

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Robin Van Persie or Radamel Falcao? Who gets the nod in Louis Van Gaal's ideal starting-eleven?

Radamel Falcao shocked deadline day spectators as he completed an unlikely switch to the Premier League with Manchester United. The prolific centre-forward joined the Red Devils in a £6 million season-long loan deal from Ligue 1 outfit AS Monaco.

In adding the Colombian international to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, United manager Louis van Gaal has assembled a front three which is guaranteed to make for exciting viewing this season. But it's anyone's guess as to how the trio will fit into the Dutchman's first-team plans.

With Wayne Rooney only recently having been handed the captain's armband, it seems as though the 28-year-old will be left to fight-it-out with Robin Van Persie for a spot in the Red Devils' starting eleven. Below we look at the the duo's statistics from the previous two seasons, to decide who's best to lead the line at Old Trafford.

2012/13 Domestic League Statistics

  TeamPosTotal GoalsGoals /AppShot Conversion (%)Total AssistsTotal Chances CreatedChances Created /AppAppsMins
Robin van Persie Manchester United FW 26 0.68 18.44 9 70 1.84 38 3,123
Falcao Atletico Madrid FW 28 0.82 28.30 1 32 0.91 34 2,901

Robin Van Persie single handedly won his side the domestic title in his debut season, scoring 26 goals as he starred in each and every league match for the Red Devils.

However, Falcao proved the more prolific of the duo, despite experiencing fewer minutes of playing time. The Colombian international netted on 28 occasions, bagging 0.82 goals per appearance. In terms of shots converted, he also holds the monopoly. He proved far more clinical than Manchester United's player of the campaign, burying just under 30% of his opportunities.

The statistics see Van Persie's emerge as the more creative of the duo. He fashioned 70 chances, registering nine assists. Meanwhile, Falcao could only manage 32  key passes; less than half the Dutchman's total. In this time, he set-up just a single goal. 

2013/14 Domestic League Statistics

  TeamPosTotal GoalsGoals /AppShot Conversion (%)Total AssistsTotal Chances CreatedChances Created /AppAppsMins
Van Persie Manchester United FW  12 0.57 19.35 3 17 0.81 21 1,584
Falcao AS Monaco FW  9 0.53 66.70 0 8 0.47 17 1,389

Falcao was unfortunate to miss the second half of last season through injury, which ruled him out of the World Cup in Brazil - a huge blow for both club and country. He made just 17 appearances during Monaco's return to the top flight, yet still managed to bag a respectable nine goals. Perhaps even more impressive is the fashion in which he did so, converting over two thirds of his total chances. Meanwhile, he orchestrated eight chances for his team-mates, at a rate of one key pass every two matches. 

Van Persie actually scored more often in Falcao throughout 2013/14, although he too suffered from an injury-ridden campaign. He never really got going as a result, yet still managed to net 12 goals in 21 appearances. In terms of chance creation, he proved far more innovative than the Colombian, although, again, his form was noticeably impacted by injury. He assisted three goals in total, having fashioned 17 key passes. 

The Dutchman has vowed to fight Falcao for a starting place in Louis van Gaal's side, but he has a significant fight on his hands if he wishes to do just that. The former Arsenal man may have recorded a higher goal tally over the course of the past two campaigns, but Falcao scored far more regularly and from considerably fewer chances.

Man United have lacked attacking impetus for sometime now and the Colombian's arrival will come as a huge relief for the Old Trafford faithful. While Van Gaal has a number of creative players amongst his ranks, he seemingly lacks the personnel capable of ensuring the ball ends up in the back of the opposition net - the club's 0-0 draw versus Burnley proved enough to draw this conclusion. Falcao's obsession for goals will surely drive the Red Devils to success.

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