Radamel Falcao's deadline day move to Manchester United appeared to spring from nowhere late in the summer transfer window, but the player has revealed he was in talks regarding the switch for months.
The Colombian's £6 million season-long loan from Monaco came as a shock, given the low amount of speculation involving the two parties until the morning of deadline day.
However, Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail quotes Falcao appearing to suggest that United had laid the groundwork months in advance:
I am very proud to be at Manchester United. We have been in talks with the club for some months and, in the end, we were able to reach an agreement with Monaco on the last day of the transfer deadline.
The move will see Falcao miss out on Champions League football once again, having spent the 2013-14 campaign concentrating on Monaco's Ligue 1 progress and ultimately helping them to clinch second place behind Paris Saint-Germain.
With Danny Welbeck off to north London in a £16 million switch, and Javier Hernandez beginning life at Real Madrid, the path was cleared for the Colombian to arrive at Old Trafford in a chaotic 24-hour period.
Louis van Gaal is attempting to correct the mistakes shown thus far in his Old Trafford tenure. The Red Devils are yet to win a game and have scored just two goals in their first three 2014-15 Premier League fixtures.
Fellow new boy Angel Di Maria will also be an important figure in improving that record. The former Real Madrid man displayed fine attacking form in Argentina's 4-2 friendly win over Germany on Wednesday, as shown by WhoScored.com:
Ángel Di María: MotM vs Germany, Rating 10, Goals 1, Assists 3, Dribbles 6, Key Passes 5 @Argentina http://t.co/LbY90C5f4o9/3/2014, 8:57:02 PM
United have spared no expense in linking the two players together for the season, with Di Maria's £59.7 million purchase from Real Madrid accounting for more than a third of their summer spending.
Falcao is clearly excited about playing alongside his new team-mate:
I haven't had the opportunity to speak with the players but, although they are stars, they are also footballers [who] play for the team to achieve the common goals of the group. I am sure this will be the basis of our success and in any team that wants to achieve important things.
Angel [Di Maria] is a fantastic player. I love the way he plays, I really do. I am very excited to be a team-mate of his and also to be part of Manchester United.
James Masters of The Times says Di Maria's midweek performance is evidence that he can be the main marvel at Manchester United, irrespective of any hype surrounding Falcao's arrival:
James Masters @Masters_JamesD
If Di Maria plays like this for #mufc then you can forget about Falcao....just give this lad the ball. Awesome tonight.9/3/2014, 7:57:35 PM
In principle, the South American duo have the means to be a worldly force in the English top flight, but there are still concerns that Van Gaal's most pivotal squad issues weren't addressed this summer.
Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo have been signed as reinforcements in defence and midfield. However, a more experienced centre-back and midfield general were always noted as the primary concerns, none of those acquired really fitting that profile.
Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News says Van Gaal has a dilemma fitting all his offensive and creative talents into a line-up, suggesting the 3-5-2 used so far may not be suitable, given the personnel:
Rob Dawson @RobDawsonMEN
Can't see (realistic) way that Falcao, Van Persie, Rooney, Mata, Di Maria fit into same team in 4-3-3 or 3-5-2. One might be disappointed.9/1/2014, 11:39:57 AM
The Telegraph's Henry Winter argues that an overhaul in tactics will be required in the wake of new arrivals if the helmsman is to get the best out of those at his disposal.
That being said, formation only has so much of an influence, and the mere presence of the likes of Falcao and Di Maria around does bring some extent of automatic improvement.
Optimising those presences is the next concern, but to hear United's latest addition speak so fondly of his 2014-15 prospects will be treated as a major positive of what's to come at Old Trafford.
With a new wealth of stars under their hood, United will hope any shortcomings are glossed over by the dazzle they possess in attack. Whether it will ultimately be enough to return them to the top is another debate entirely.
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