When Manchester United agreed a loan deal for Radamel Falcao on transfer deadline day, confirmed by their official website, the club signed one of the deadliest finishers in the game. However, the Red Devils certainly paid a hefty price for the privilege.
Depending on which figure you trust, United are paying Falcao anything from £190,000 to £350,000 per week. Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reported the "lowest" figure in that range:
Radamel Falcao finally sealed a £6m season-long loan move to Manchester United at 1.30am, in the transfer window’s most eye-catching deal of deadline day, after the club were granted an extension to conclude the move.
With the striker’s salary of £190,000 a week being paid by United the agreement is set to cost the club at least £16m, with the 20-times champions having an option to buy Falcao next summer from Monaco.
At the other end of the spectrum, Mirror reporter David McDonnell suggested the striker will be United's highest earner, despite any spin the club might be applying to the deal:
United insist they are not be paying Falcao’s tax-free Monaco salary in full, but the striker is still understood to be earning more than captain Wayne Rooney - who is on £230,000-a-week - with the Colombian being paid around £265,000-a-week.
Falcao is on £10m a year at Monaco, and to ensure he remains on the same 'take home' salary in England United have to pay him close to £350k-a-week.
At least Jackson and McDonnell agree on the initial, up-front fee. The £6 million mooted seems to be a common consensus and is a reflection of how much United have had to fork out to earn Falcao.
Meeting in the middle of Jackson and McDonnell's wage estimates, Paul Hayward of The Telegraph offered his own figure:
Falcao has the world on a string. Coming off knee ligament injury, at 28, collects £265,000 a week at Man Utd. Elite players printing money.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) September 2, 2014
While the actual figures remain uncertain, the one thing that is clear is that United have temporarily signed a true superstar. Falcao is a lethal finisher, equally adept at manufacturing his own goals as he is at pouncing on chances inside the area.
Despite his frustrations at Monaco, Falcao's scoring record in France was still respectable. He scored nine goals in 17 appearances last term, and netted two in three appearances to start this season, per WhoScored.com.
Have United paid too much for Falcao?
In between, the player was laid low by serious ACL damage that derailed his first full season in France and kept him out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Even taking the injury into account doesn't overshadow Falcao's superb history as a potent finisher.
Squawka Football puts together some intriguing career numbers that serve as proof of just how prolific Falcao has been:
VINE: Radamel Falcao stats to put a spring in the step of every Man Utd fan this morning - https://t.co/A5e2fxKIHI— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 2, 2014
He's the kind of dominant attacker United need even with forwards the calibre of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. The former has yet to score so far this season while he recovers from his excursions at the World Cup.
It will also concern Van Gaal that United have failed to score in the last two games. His team drew a blank during a 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup and did the same in a 0-0 Premier League draw with Burnley.
The Dutch coach has since jettisoned misfiring pair Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck on the final day of the window. Van Gaal somehow convinced Premier League rivals Arsenal to part with around £16 million for Welbeck, per BBC Sport. Nice work if you can get it when considering that transfer probably offset a lot of the costs for Falcao.
Meanwhile, Hernandez joined Real Madrid on a season-long loan, per The Guardian. That's a move Falcao is rumoured to have preferred, according to Spanish journalist Guillem Balagaue, per Bleacher Report UK:
. @GuillemBalague: On Falcao—the player was desperate to join Real Madrid, but not even the magician Jorge Mendes managed to make it happen— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) September 1, 2014
However, Falcao's rumoured preference for the Spanish capital shouldn't really bother United. It's only natural following his hugely successful spell with Real's bitter city rivals Atletico. The player has also proved that he'll score no matter where he plies his trade.
What's more interesting is that Balague also noted that the Falcao deal was made with Van Persie's lengthy injury history in mind. It seems Van Gaal isn't particularly confident his prolific countryman will stay fit this season:
Van Gaal thinks Van Persie will continue struggling with injuries and Falcao is more than an ideal replacement— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) September 1, 2014
Falcao is certainly a more than competent replacement for any striker. Van Persie knows the Premier League and fired the Red Devils to a title in the 2012-13 campaign, but Falcao could be just as effective.
Of course, that will only come after he's adapted to the frenetic pace of play in England. However, considering United are in rebuilding mode at the moment, Van Gaal can probably afford to wait.
Falcao will be worth any wait, based on how favourably his numbers compare to those of Van Persie and Rooney. The Premier League's official Twitter feed shows a fascinating comparison:
For a full overview of how Falcao compares to the strikers United had at their disposal throughout the last campaign, Squawka Football provides the following:
Falcao's arrival at Old Trafford already has ex-players turned pundits gushing. Sky Sports analyst Jamie Redknapp believes the deal, along with signing Angel Di Maria, heralds the start of a "Galacticos-style" era for the red half of Manchester:
Di Maria, Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie... it’s almost becoming a bit of a 'Galacticos' now.
The problem is going to be defensively. They are a little bit susceptible at the back; they have lost Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and not replaced them and that is a bit of a problem.
One thing’s for sure. Falcao hasn’t come to sit on the bench. When you’re that big a name, you want to come and play so the manager will have to make some big decisions.
Redknapp's point about defensive issues was echoed in semi-sarcastic fashion by BBC presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker:
WHAT THE FALCAO?? If you can't defend just out score 'em!— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 1, 2014
Concerns about United's defensive woes are valid. Van Gaal's three-at-the-back structure was ripped apart by lower-league opposition and has looked wide open in the Premier League.
There's also the obvious implication of imbalance in the squad. Van Gaal now has an embarrassment of riches in forward areas.
Aside from the quartet Redknapp highlighted, there is also mercurial schemer Juan Mata to consider. Accommodating all of these forward-thinking talents isn't going to be easy.
However, a solution won't be beyond a manager as experienced and creative as Van Gaal. When he settles on one, the idea of United regularly outscoring opponents could easily become a reality.
Falcao may be close to 29 and not far removed from serious injury, but he has a natural gift top strikers never lose. That makes this is a worthwhile deal for United even at the cost.
It's one that should inspire a return to the top four this season.