Radamel Falcao’s move from Monaco to Manchester United is the perfect transfer on all levels for the Red Devils.
The reported £6 million loan deal, which Guillem Balague insists will be a permanent £51.4 million transfer, has stunned their rivals.
It’s also shown how United, and in particular Ed Woodward, are finally thinking ahead, and why Louis van Gaal has more than a shade of Sir Alex Ferguson about him.
Falcao agents insist he’s been bought €65m for 4 years. Loan deal first for FFP reasons?
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) September 1, 2014
Falcao was the one elite striker who was available for transfer this summer.
With United already having four strikers in Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, and with young James Wilson also set to be promoted to the first-team, it seemed that the striker position was one area the Red Devils wouldn’t look to strengthen.
The club has already spent over £150 million this window, and while Chicharito has gone to Real Madrid, even if Welbeck also left, signing a new striker still appeared a long shot. And it’s that suprise factor which might well have ruined the plans of United’s rivals.
There seemed to be a lot of truth in Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal pursuing Falcao recently. While Liverpool plumped for Mario Balotelli in the end (though they would have almost certainly preferred Radamel Falcao), it appeared City especially were planning for his arrival.
It was thought that Falcao would arrive after wantaway striker Alvaro Negredo left for Valencia (h/t Daily Mail). However, United’s swoop for the Colombian now means City could well have to keep the disgruntled Negredo. While the Gunners now appear set to continue without a new striker if Arsene Wenger’s comments (h/t SkySports.com) are to be believed – particularly damaging for his team after missing out on Loic Remy.
So in one fell swoop, Manchester United have boosted the optimism flying around their squad and their fans, while creating an air of disappointment at both Manchester City and Arsenal.
On top of that, Falcao’s transfer shows how United – and Ed Woodward – have learned the lessons of their midfield crisis, and are now investing to avoid a similar situation up-front.
While Falcao is the same age as Rooney and just three years younger than van Persie, with the latter’s injury concerns the Falcao move provides that security for the Red Devils in attack.
In a season where Manchester United need to get back into the Champions League if their hard work building a money-spinning empire is not to be all for nothing, Louis van Gaal needs to have two world-class forwards in his line-up.
With van Persie needing to go under the knife and thus be ruled out for a number of months, United would be short of the required quality should Welbeck or Hernandez be deputising in that time.
So to replace van Persie in the short-term with a truly world-class forward in Falcao is the ideal situation for United which is now a reality.Plus van Persie’s injury record and the reported concerns over his fitness means a top striker is more of a necessity than most would think.
Van Gaal thinks Van Persie will continue struggling with injuries and Falcao is more than an ideal replacement — Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) September 1, 2014
And in the long-term, yes Falcao is only three years younger than van Persie, but that’s potentially three more years with a world-class striker in the team.
Signing Falcao almost certainly means Welbeck will follow Chicharito out of Old Trafford, and will provide a further boost for United in terms of the progress of James Wilson.
Wilson was better than both Welbeck and Chicharito put together in his cameo appearance at MK Dons, and the 18-year-old has already shown great promise with his two-goal debut against Hull City.
His promotion to fourth choice this season will enhance his development – and give United a better option than Welbeck or Hernandez – but the real boost to his progress will be at Carrington.
Training and learning off Radamel Falcao, in addition to Rooney and van Persie, could improve Wilson’s game immeasurably – again keeping United strong up-front for the long-term.
And finally for Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, his agreeing to the Falcao signing provides a good insight into how his team will play this season.
That is, we now know that United – in terms of how the team is set-up – will be one of the most unpredictable sides in the Premier League this season.
While van Persie is out of action, van Gaal could well stick to the 3-5-2 formation. But when the Dutchman returns, the manager has a plethora of options.
He could go 4-3-3 with a fearsome Falcao-Rooney-RvP trio up front, or he could play Angel di Maria on one side with Rooney playing deeper.
Or van Gaal could stick to 3-5-2 with Falcao and van Persie, with Rooney just behind and di Maria as a wing-back. Or have Juan Mata in the no.10 with Rooney in central midfield.
The possibilities are endless.
Falcao’s signing begs the question of where the likes of di Maria, Rooney and Mata will play, and simply makes United a much harder team to second-guess for managers and oppositon scouts across the Premier League.
It also makes competition for places even tougher in the forward positions – that will make Rooney, van Persie, Mata, even di Maria and Falcao himself work harder in training and become more focused.
Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson always had many different options in midfield and attack.
They could be impossible to second-guess, and with so many quality players to choose from, teams would face the Red Devils without much of a clue as to how they would line up and how they would play.
It’s part of the reason why United were so dominant under Sir Alex – opponents just didn’t know who would play, but they knew whoever did play was going to be a quality option that could tear their team apart.
After sanctioning this deal, Louis van Gaal appears to be following a similar route to Sir Alex.
The signing of Radamel Falcao looks set to bring the fear factor back to Manchester United.
- Manchester City ruthless in win over Liverpool with less shots but more on target and more goals
- Stevan Jovetic and Sergio Aguero goals example of why City are Premier League title favourites
- City directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain seeing Barcelona dream come to life
- Pep Guardiola glory days at Barca the model for Soriano and Begiristain to achieve at City
As Manchester City demolished Liverpool 3-1 at the Etihad on Monday night, many would think Stevan Jovetic, Sergio Aguero or even Manuel Pellegrini would be the main winners from the game.
Sure, Jovetic was phenomenal and Aguero scintillating, while Pellegrini had his team and his tactics absolutely spot on.
But the real winners on the night were City’s CEO Ferran Soriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain.
For at last, confirmation that the duo’s vision – of recreating the Pep Guardiola glory days at FC Barcelona – can become a distinctive reality at Manchester City.
Against a Liverpool team tipped for title contention, City were remarkably ruthless – three mistakes, three goals.
Each time the Reds slipped up, City pounced. The movement, the passing, and crucially, the understanding between teammates, was all there.
Jovetic’s first goal came through Alberto Moreno’s mistake more than anything, but his second was pure teamwork – the kind of move usually done over and over by the same group of players in training.
From David Silva’s touch back to Yaya Toure, to his give-and-go with Samir Nasri, to Nasri’s give-and-go with Silva again, to Silva’s ball into Jovetic (who’s probably been left out in training games before but now decides he wants to play as well) and Jovetic’s flick on for Nasri who finally gets the ball he was waiting for, the patient play at last came together and the chance was soon to be created.
Nasri then guided it to the area where Jovetic usually makes his runs, and voila – the goal.
Of course he ball is helped on its way into the net by Liverpool’s defending, especially when left-back Moreno stepped out of the defensive line to close down Yaya Toure out on the wing, leaving the not-so-defensively-minded Philippe Coutinho to fill the hole in defence.
A ball into Nasri later – given space thanks to Dejan Lovren stepping out of position for no reason – and with Jordan Henderson ball-watching instead of picking up Jovetic, City get a well-worked goal helped by clueless, Manchester United-esque defending.
Then there’s the third goal by Aguero, forged by an understanding with Jesus Navas and a knowledge that the winger will read his run and play the ball just ahead of the covering centre-back.
That goal defines how well this Manchester City team has gelled together. Aguero was on the pitch just 22 seconds by the time he found the net.
For Aguero to score from open play like that immediately after coming on takes excellent understanding of how his teammates work.
And now that intrinsic knowledge of how their teammates play could see Manchester City make their directors’ Barcelona dream a reality.
The stellar understanding between the Barca team of Pep Guardiola was the main factor that allowed his tiki-taka to become so dominant and win two Champions League titles.
Soriano and Begiristain came to City determined to recreate the Camp Nou glory days at the Etihad.
In hiring Pellegrini, they have a man who can realise their vision.
A 2013/14 season which yielded a Premier League and League Cup double was a great start, but it was just the beginning of the five-year cycle.
Last season, it was about polishing the squad, and then adapting it to playing more attractive football with a clockwork understanding.
Now is the season Manchester City are meant to dominate. The team has well and truly gelled, and the City juggernaut is finally scheduled to get rolling.
The beating of Liverpool and the teamwork that went into it gave Soriano and Begiristain the confirmation they clearly wanted – that their hard work and many hours put into this project are going to pay off.
Last season was no flash in the pan. Manchester City have proved again they are the top dogs in the Premier League, and that they’re going to keep it that way.