After years of relative inactivity in the transfer market, Manchester United went big this summer. Like a dormant volcano finally erupting, the Red Devils finally realized that enough was enough and that they had to spend in order to compete. While the arrival of Louis Van Gaal was supposed to make the team more flexible, adaptable and a force to be reckoned with in the future, it also marked the first time the club broke the £100m mark in terms of money spent in a single transfer window.
Although countless people have been harping on about how the current Manchester United squad is in dire need of replenishment, it is fair to say that no one saw this overhaul coming. While the club did spend an awful lot of money, each transfer tells us a story that is quite unique in its own right. While the arrival of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera early showed that the club was keen on investing in areas that needed addition, the signing of Angel Di Maria was a case of buying the furniture before the house had been built.
The arrival of Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind, two versatile players who shone during the World Cup for a combined fee of just £30 million is an astute piece of business by the Red Devils. But arguably the most surprising bit of business done by the club was the acquisition of world class striker, when they already had two at their disposal.
After being linked with Real Madrid and Arsenal for much of the transfer window, Radamel Falcao’s move to Manchester United from Monaco was something that caught the football world by surprise. The season-long loan deal for the Colombian hit-man nicknamed “El Tigre” is set to cost the club £6 million plus the player’s wages.
While the Colombian striker will no doubt be a welcome addition to the squad, much like the acquisition of Di Maria, his signing raises more questions than it answers. The departure of Javier Hernandez to Real Madrid on a similar loan deal and Danny Welbeck’s transfer to Arsenal meant the club were left with just two senior strikers for the season. Given Van Persie’s injury record and rumors that the Dutchman is about to undergo knee surgery, you can certainly see why Van Gaal chose to go for Falcao.
But the question most fans would be asking is this, should the club have gone out and bought a couple of defenders instead of signing another striker? What does this mean to the club’s 3-1-4-2 formation? Does this spell the end of Van Persie’s United career? Is Van Gaal going to shift to a 4-3-3 or is Rooney going to go back into midfield?
First things first, the addition of Falcao gives the club something that they have been lacking for some time now, fire power up front. No disrespect to either Van Persie or Rooney, neither of them were really going to stretch the defense with pace and power. Although both of them scored a ton of goals and were good headers of the ball, neither of them are what you call traditional target men.
Falcao is just that. Quick, strong, powerful in the air and capable of scoring goals for fun, a number nine in every sense. His addition means that the club have a physical presence up front and a player who can run defenders ragged with his pace and power. Capable of either playing alone or alongside someone, Falcao gives the club plenty of options going forward. If Van Gaal wants to stick to his current formation, Van Persie is likely to drop out in favor of the Colombian who will not only add goals but also some much needed pace up front.
Although Falcao can only play in one position, the fact that he allows Van Gaal to tinker with his formation is something that was certainly in his favor. Another reason why this is such a good move is the deal itself. It is not a big-money signing rather a loan deal, albeit one with an option of buying at the end of the season. It is a win-win situation for the club. If Falcao does well, scores plenty of goals and leads the club into the Champions League next season, the club have first dibs on the player. If he doesn’t and his time at Old Trafford is limited due to injury, the club can very well pull out and send him back to Monaco at the end of the year.
While Falcao might not necessarily seem like the player they were crying out loud for, he will give Van Gaal three world-class center forwards to choose from. As their neighbors City showed last season, you need at least 2-3 players who can score 20 goals a season if you are serious about challenging for the title. In Van Persie, Rooney and Falcao, the Red Devils finally have that. Along with the reinforcements in midfield and defense, the arrival of Colombian might finally mark the start of a new era at Old Trafford, one that the fans will be hoping erases the last 15 months from their memory.