Manchester United stole the show at the September 1 transfer deadline by signing prolific Monaco striker Radamel Falcao on a £6 million season-long loan deal.
Following the international break, the Premier League returns this weekend – and all eyes will be focused on the Columbian goal-getter. Manchester United is set to host Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford on Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern time.
Falcao will be guaranteed a warm reception when he makes his debut in front of United supporters at “The Theater of Dreams.” The 28-year-old striker has produced outstanding goal-scoring tallies at previous clubs River Plate, Porto, Atletico Madrid, and Monaco.
His shock arrival at Old Trafford came as a surprise to many football pundits. It appeared that Falcao was likely to join Spanish giants Real Madrid. Oddly, the Galácticos decided not to pursue Falcao. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told Spanish newspaper AS that manager Carlo Ancelotti and the club opted against signing the Columbian.
“He is a fantastic player and we’ve considered signing him, not just now but also in the past,” Perez told the paper. “We reviewed the situation with Ancelotti and made a decision not to pursue signing the player.”
Manchester United swooped in to complete the signing. The Red Devils hold a £43.5 million option to buy the striker at season’s end. Falcao is fired-up to produce the goods for his new club. He scored 11 goals in 19 appearances at Monaco last season, and has scored 63 goals in 88 games over the past three seasons.
“Manchester United is the biggest club in the world and is clearly determined to get back to the top,” he told the club’s official website. “I am looking forward to working with Louis van Gaal and contributing to the team’s success at this very exciting period in the club’s history.”
Falcao will add to United’s surplus of attacking options that include Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Angel di Maria, Juan Mata, and high-potential youngster Adnan Januzaj. His sterling performances at Atletico Madrid helped Los Colchoneros trade punches with Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Atletico won the 2013 Copa del Rey Final against derby rivals Real Madrid.
United supporters are expecting Falcao to fire the Red Devils back into the Champions League after Man United fell from Premier League winners to a dismal seventh-place finish last season. The club is not involved in European competition this season. Falcao has twice won the Europa League at Porto and Atletico.
The only concern about Falcao is his recent injury record. Falcao missed the entire 2014 World Cup because of an ACL injury.
Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been brutally honest about the departure of striker Danny Welbeck. Van Gaal delivered a strong message by stating that Welbeck was not up to the standard of the club. The United boss opted to allow Welbeck to leave Old Trafford to join Arsenal for a £16 million fee.
“He played three seasons for the first team, but he doesn’t have the record of Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney – and that is the standard,” van Gaal said at his Thursday press conference. “That is why we let him go, because of Falcao, but also to allow the youngsters to fit in. That is the policy. That is why I am here.”
Welbeck’s goal-scoring record at Old Trafford wasn’t anywhere near outstanding. The 23-year-old scored 20 goals in 90 Premier League appearances for United. Some pundits including former United icon Gary Neville have criticized Manchester United’s youth policy and have argued that £16 million wasn’t a fair enough fee for Welbeck.
On Saturday, Welbeck is set to make his Arsenal debut in an under-pressure situation against last season’s title winners Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal will be without star striker Olivier Giroud until December due to a tibia fracture. It will be up to Welbeck to justify his price tag by producing the goods for the Gunners. If not, Arsenal will be in trouble and van Gaal will come up smelling like a rose for his decision to ditch Welbeck and for luring Falcao to Old Trafford.
WEEK FOUR PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS:
Last week’s predictions can be viewed here.
MAN CITY AT ARSENAL (Saturday, 7:45 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: City 2-0 Arsenal.
TOTTENHAM AT SUNDERLAND (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Spurs 1-1 Sunderland.
LEICESTER CITY AT STOKE CITY (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Leicester.
BURNLEY AT CRYSTAL PALACE (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Palace 1-0 Burnley.
SWANESA CITY AT CHELSEA (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Swansea.
EVERTON AT WEST BROM (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Everton 1-1 West Brom.
NEWCASTLE UNITED AT SOUTHAMPTON (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Newcastle.
ASTON VILLA AT LIVERPOOL (Saturday, 12:30 PM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Villa.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS AT MAN UNITED (Sunday, 11:00 AM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Man United 3-0 QPR.
WEST HAM UNITED AT HULL CITY (Monday, 3:00 PM Eastern Time)
Prediction: Hull 2-1 West Ham.
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