Far from solve the many problems at Manchester United, the signing of Radamel Falcao looks like it’ll only create more.
United have struggled to score goals under Louis van Gaal, that much is true. Only two goals in three Premier League games is a pathetic return for a strike force that already has Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
Throw in support from Juan Mata and Danny Welbeck and it’s clear there’s an issue somewhere.
But how the arrival of another genuine centre-forward is supposed to solve it is something only van Gaal can answer. How he intends to deploy Falcao, Rooney and van Persie – not to mention Mata, Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera – remains to be seen but it’s not a line-up that screams balance.
Van Gaal has already this season bemoaned a lack of creativity in his side and that’s not a void Falcao can fill. But the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Alessio Cerci and Ivan Rakitic have all been on the move this summer and, according to statistics from EuroFantasyLeague.com, were among last season’s most creative players.
In van Gaal’s defence he has added the midfielder responsible for the most goals last year of any player in the position, Angel Di Maria, but the Argentina international can’t carry the burden alone.
Fabregas, Cerci and Rakitic created 33 goals between then last season – 13 for the Chelsea new boy, 10 for the Italy international and 10 for the former Sevilla captain – while none of United’s midfielders from 2013-14 reached double figures.
Rooney was United’s biggest creative inspiration last year. He claimed 10 assists, more than three times as many as van Persie, and was head-and-shoulders United’s best points scorer.
Rooney and Falcao could be a fruitful partnership but it’s hard to see van Gaal dropping compatriot van Persie for an extended period of time.
Assists, if they are going to come for United, need to come from midfield. But it means that as the transfer window closes, United’s prospects were badly hurt well before the start of September.
Fabregas and Rakitic moved early in pre-season. Cerci was this weekend confirmed as an Atletico Madrid player but United have not once been linked with his signature.
The only other midfielder signing in at Old Trafford, Ander Herrera, created five goals last season in what was a successful, Champions League-qualifying year for Athletic Bilbao. It would’ve put him one behind Mata on United’s list of creators from last season but that says more about Shinji Kagawa, Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini than anything else.
Falcao has never been a creator. He peaked at Atletico in 2012-13 and scored 28 goals in 34 starts, but was responsible for only one assist. That year he was one of Atletico’s most important players, EuroFantasyLeague confirms, but equally vital were the midfielders who set him up. Without them, Falcao would have struggled for goals – and United, in that exact situation, are struggling too.
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