In modern football, it’s difficult to put a price-tag on a player.
In the current football climate where David Luiz is worth £50m and Gareth Bale cost Real Madrid £5m more than it did to land Cristiano Ronaldo, arriving at a sensible valuation for a player is not easy.
At the start of this season, Radamel Falcao was one of the hottest prospects in world football with the reputation of being one of the deadliest strikers in the game.
His stats since moving to European football from River Plate in 2009 are nothing short of sensational and only add bewilderment to why his move to Manchester United this season has not worked out.
Falcao scored 41 goals in 51 appearances during his two seasons at Porto before a £35m move to Atletico Madrid in 2011. He excelled in the Spanish capital, netting 52 times in just 68 matches before his big money move to AS Monaco saw the French club paying a reported £52m for the Colombian’s services.
The striker scored 11 goals in 20 appearances in Ligue 1, but his time in France will be bitterly remembered for the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in January 2014 which subsequently saw him miss the World Cup last summer.
With financial fair play rules dictating that Monaco needed to offload their star players in order to balance the books, a deadline day move from Manchester United saw the Red Devils take Falcao on loan until the end of this season.
It was a move which suited all parties. Monaco were financially sound and no longer had to pay Falcao’s reported £250,000 a week wages.
As for United, it was a case of ‘try before you buy’ to see if the striker could still terrorise defences and be a prolific finisher following his long-term injury. United have the first option to purchase the player outright at the end of this season for somewhere in the region of £43m. Had Falcao been an abundant goalscorer in the Premier League, the fee would be justified.
However, the Colombia international’s time at Old Trafford has been frustrating and his lack of goals, threat up-front and minutes on the pitch all indicate that Louis van Gaal will not make Falcao a part of his plans for next season if £43m is the price to pay.
‘El Tigre’ has scored just four goals from his 25 appearances for United this season and hasn’t found the back of the net since January.
In Robin van Persie’s absence in recent months, Falcao has had more opportunities to show his worth but has failed to take his chance. Wayne Rooney has also been preferred up-front in recent months with Falcao only starting games when Michael Carrick has been absent, with Rooney shifting into a deeper midfield role.
In fact, 12 of Falcao’s 25 appearances have come from the bench and the lack of game time saw him play for the club’s Under 21’s side in March with his former agent reportedly saying the Colombian had described the experience as “weird”.
However, while the stats may point to a dwindling price-tag this summer, there is an argument that Van Gaal has not utilised his marquee striker enough.
As mentioned above, the forward has scarcely played the full 90 minutes this season. Falcao has been on the pitch 168 minutes fewer this season than last; a campaign which he missed the second half of due to suffering his ACL injury.
The service to the striker has been poor under Van Gaal’s philosophy also, with Falcao having only recorded 36 shots on goal this season. Compare that to the 108 shots he had on goal for Atletico Madrid three seasons ago and you get an understanding of why he has not been as prolific this campaign.
In fact, Falcao scored three goals on the most recent international break in wins for Colombia over Bahrain and Kuwait, proving that he has not lost his appetite for goal.
While Manchester United remain favourites with bookmakers to retain the striker, his performances and statistics cannot justify £43m being spent.
However, few clubs in world football could afford his services for that price-tag and should Monaco need to sell Falcao to comply with financial fair play rules, the striker could remain at Old Trafford next season at a discounted price.
Would United take the Colombian for £25m? Could they ask to extend his loan furthermore? And if Falcao’s asking price did drop which other clubs would be interested?
With European football returning to Old Trafford next season, Louis van Gaal will be looking to ensure his squad is strong enough to compete on both a domestic and European front.
There is a chance Falcao will retain the number 9 shirt at the club next season, but it won’t be at the expense of £43m.