United have completed their Summer 2014 transfer window recruitment with the signing of 28-year-old Columbian striker Radamel Falcao from AS Monaco on a one year loan deal with an option to buy.
The Falcao deal was secured on the last day of the transfer window leading to suggestions that it is a knee jerk panic buy in view of United’s difficult start to the domestic season. This suggestion doesn’t seem to stand up to close scrutiny; with on-going speculation about van Persie’s fitness it appears that van Gaal has moved quickly to strengthen his striking options having reviewed alternative striking resources already at the club. The acquisition of the player has to be linked to the departure from the club of Hernandez on a one year loan and Welbeck and Lawrence on permanent deals. It seems that van Gaal has assessed these players and decided that they cannot provide the top class back up and competition for places he requires.
Falcao is a proven goalscorer; he has scored goals throughout his career wherever he has played. He isn’t tall, at only 5’10” but gets a good proportion of his goals from headers, principally as a consequence of good movement and timing. He is a shrewd player; strong and quick and noted for having a high chance conversion rate. He is right footed but his left foot is also pretty good and has a powerful accurate shot. His success comes as a consequence of knowing where and when to use his talents to hurt opponents.
His career started when he was only 13 years of age in his native Columbia when he first featured in a second division game for Lanceros Boyaca, before being picked up by River Plate as a 15 year old. He played for the Argentine club for four years and first rose to prominence their under the guidance of emerging coach Diego Simeone, someone he would meet up with again after his move to Europe.
That move came in 2009 when Falcao joined FC Porto. In his first year in Portugal he contributed 34 goals in all competitions. That was followed by 38 goals in 2010-11 season. The 2010-11 campaign also saw the player score 17 goals in 14 games in that seasons Europa League including the winning goal in the final as Porto defeated Braga.
In the summer of 2011 Falcao was sold to Atletico Madrid where he was re-united with old boss Diego Simeone. His fondness for the Europa League continued in Madrid where he scored 12 goals including two in a 3-0 final victory over Ander Herrera’s Athletic Bilbao. In total in his first year in Madrid he scored 36 goals. Further success followed the following year as the player was part of an Atletico side which defeated city rivals Real for the first time in 14 years to take the Copa del Rey.
Falcao was now hot property and in the summer of 2013 he was sold to ambitious AS Monaco where he has just suffered an injury hit season. He comes to Old Trafford then looking to get his career back on track.
Talk of injuries however should sound a note of caution. Falcao has had repeated problems with his right knee; his cruciate operation in January was the third operation on that knee in his career and saw the player miss the recent World Cup finals after having finished as Columbia’s top scorer in qualifying with nine goals. Should he stay fit he will improve the quality in the squad and be a significant asset as van Gaal looks to develop a winning team at Old Trafford.
Radamel Falcao, welcome to Old Trafford.