Radamel Falcao last night declared that playing for “one of the truly great teams” like Manchester United was a lifetime’s ambition, after the Old Trafford club committed around £20m to bring him from Monaco for just one loan season.
Falcao was desperate to leave Monaco and, though United were not his first choice, their offer was the only one on the table by yesterday morning. But he said of his new club: “It’s a dream come true to join a club like Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in the world. I’ve always dreamt about playing for one of the truly great teams and winning lots of trophies. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you can’t turn that down. I’m a huge fan of English football and watch it whenever I can. Now the reality is I’m going to play there.”
The Colombian striker touched down at Manchester Airport at 6.48pm last night for a medical at United’s Carrington training ground.
The £6m signing-on fee United have agreed to pay for the 28-year-old takes their outlay on players beyond £150m this summer. But it is by agreeing to the Colombian’s wages that they take the biggest financial hit. Other Premier League clubs were quoted £18m a year – £346,000 a week – when Falcao’s representatives first began touting him around, midway through last week.
United are understood to have agreed to pay £265,000 – making Falcao an even bigger earner than Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. United have an option to buy the player for €55m (£43.4m) at the end of the season.
The move was attractive to United because it allowed them to release both Javier Hernandez, who has gone on loan to Real Madrid, and Danny Welbeck, who joined Arsenal last night for around £17m after insisting that he would not join Tottenham Hotspur. But it also allowed United to affirm that they are capable of signing the world’s best players. The choreography is of huge significance to a club who are trying to demonstrate their presence in a way that Manchester City were five years ago.
Welbeck’s departure to Arsenal was a dramatic one and was confirmed after the club were granted an extension. Having trained at London Colney with England yesterday morning – where he was watched by a member of the staff of Arsène Wenger, who was in Rome yesterday at a charity event – he was given the afternoon off to sort out his future and turned up at Colney again in an attempt to force a move. Welbeck feared United would only sell him to Spurs and so took matters into his own hands.
Tom Cleverley faces a hard road ahead after rejecting the offer of regular football at Aston Villa, who could not come close to his £60,000 wages, and then seeing an Everton move evaporate because the club would not agree to a loan deal. United had not managed to get a deal for Anderson last night, either. United confirmed the signing of Daley Blind from Ajax for £14m.
The possibility of a move for Falcao began to materialise on Monday last week, when the player’s agent, Jorge Mendes, arrived in Manchester to begin discussions about the deal taking Angel Di Maria – another of his clients – to Old Trafford. At that stage, City seemed to be in pole position. But despite the club’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, in Monaco for the Champions League draw last week, having talks at the French club, he was resigned to missing out on a player they would have gladly taken last summer, due to needing to sell too many players in too short a space of time to comply with FFP.
Falcao’s representatives also tried to move the player to Real Madrid but the Spanish club were not interested.
It was on Saturday that United emerged as a serious contender. Van Gaal urged United’s chief executive, Ed Woodward, to seize the opportunity. Van Gaal was impressed with Falcao’s contribution when his Netherlands team played Colombia last November, drawing 0-0. He also fits the Dutch manager’s “philosophy” of hard work and team ethic.
Van Gaal’s feeling that United lacked clinical enough finishers lay behind his desire to bring in Bayern’s Thomas Müller earlier this summer. His decision not to join was one of Van Gaal’s big disappointments in this window. Instead, Falcao will work with Van Persie, possibly with Rooney operating as a No 10. Juan Mata’s future looks more uncertain, though Van Persie’s fitness is a concern.
United’s mighty earning power means that the outlay on Falcao’s wages will not leave them in breach of new Premier League rules, which stipulate that clubs whose wage bill increases by more than £4m year on year must bring in the equivalent extra money in new commercial revenues. United have added around £1m a week to their wage roster this summer, with the salaries of Falcao, Angel Di Maria (£230,000), Daley Blind and Ander Herrera (£90,000) and Marcos Rojo (£70,000). But they have also lost £650,000 a week with departures including Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Welbeck and Hernandez. A £15.6m annual wage lift is more than offset by the new Chevrolet shirt deal.
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