Radamel Falcao, also known as ‘El Tigre’ and the king of the Europa league, is widely considered as being one of the best strikers in the world. Or at least he was. That was before he joined Manchester United at the start of this season and flopped miserably. So, will he be able to find that blistering form he once had, or should United cut their losses and send him back to Monaco on a one-way ticket?
At the start of the season, United fans had a lot to be excited about. They had a new, proven manager at the helm in Louis van Gaal and a few monster signings, including Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria and the highly-rated Falcao. As they looked to improve on a dismal last season and cement themselves once again amongst the top teams in Europe, it seemed that these new men along with the big names who were already there would be the key to doing so. Betting sites like betfair were offering odds on United winning the league as a result of all the changes they had made. So far, though, these new signings have failed to make much of a mark on the United team, with the biggest flop of all being the Colombian striker. So, why has he failed to shine?
When the 29-year-old striker joined United he had an impressive track record of 155 goals in 200 appearances for his former clubs Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco. Described as one of the most natural in-form goalscorers and a traditional number nine, he scored more than 100 goals in his first three seasons of European football. In 2011, he surpassed Jurgen Klinsmann’s record and became the highest scorer in a single European competition with 17 goals for Porto in the Champions League. In doing so, he was the first Colombian to receive the Portuguese Golden Ball award in July 2011. That’s an impressive C.V. But for some reason he has failed to deliver the goods so far for United.
It could be the case that El Tigre never really got chance to recover from the knee injury he picked up last year which forced him to sit out of the World Cup. Or maybe he is not getting the kind of service he needs in the United team. More than 50% of the Colombian’s goals have been scored from the air, so surely Van Gaal needs to set his team up to deliver crosses to him in the box. With Ashley Young playing wide on the right and Di Maria on the left, they could easily whip balls in for Falcao to get on the end of. Another approach could be to play Marouane Fellaini just behind him in an advanced midfield position, so the huge Belgian can win aerial challenges with his height and bring them down for Falcao to pounce on and finish. If Van Gaal were to manage to get the best out of Falcao, then he would be pivotal for them in a European campaign. The problem, though, is that some players just never manage to fit into the style of play in the Premier league. Remember Andriy Shevchenko at Chelsea? He was considered to be one of the world’s best players until he turned up at Stamford Bridge.
United have started to find some form and look like the team of years gone by with a massive unbeaten streak, and that was without the Colombian. This run suggests that it is all starting to click for Van Gaal and he is starting to mould the players into the team he wants. The fact that Falcao has not played much of a part in this may suggest that the Dutch manager does not see him fitting in to this new look United.
Image credit: Ronnie Macdonald
Is Falcao worth the money that United will have to pay if they want to sign him at the end of the year? A few years ago the answer to that question would have certainly been yes, but now it seems like a big punt. Could he be going down the same route as Fernando Torres? That is a route which sees a player who was so good in his prime and then one season just suddenly loses it. Coincidentally, Torres’ career also began to go downhill after a serious knee injury. The amount of money Chelsea paid for him is an example of a mistake that the United board will not want to make.
All things considered, Van Gaal has a massive decision to make at the end of this season on whether to keep Falcao or not. If he were to spend the money and he continued to flop, then it would be a huge waste. But it would also be a big loss if they let him go and then he suddenly found his form again. It seems that if Falcao does not prove himself to be the player he once was, then it would be a huge punt for United to stump up such a large amount of cash for him.