Let’s take Falcao’s very expensive move to Old Trafford – on loan. First of all, is this what United have been reduced to, taking a marquee signing on loan? Secondly, although the one-year loan fee is £ 6m, the deal is going to cost United around £24m by the time they have paid Falcao’s astronomical wage bill.
Falcao’s arrival brings the total spent on new players to £150m, a massive overhaul that some would argue was long overdue. However, there is an air of panic in the “shop till we drop” approach that flies in the face of the club’s traditional ethos of developing youngsters and enhancing the squad with major signings. There are similarities with the 1989-90 season when United brought in the likes of Neil Webb, Mike Phelan, Gary Pallister, Paul Ince and Danny Wallace. That didn’t work for a while and with Van Gaal signing half a team, there will be concerns around the “gelling factor”.
Some United fans are genuinely confused over the strategy that Van Gaal has adopted. For example, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and yet-to-be-seen Marcos Rojos are all left-sided and therefore, may be competing with each other for the same place in the team. And how will Van Gaal accomodate Angel di Maria when he has Rooney and Van Persie, as well as Juan Mata? Di Maria’s arrival must surely place Juan Mata’s future in jeopardy, although there are already rumblings that the popular Spaniard’s lack of pace has disappointed Van Gaal.
United have signed some good players this past few weeks, but they run the risk of having an all-star combination rather than a team.
Regardless of United’s Fantasy Football game, Falcao’s move is odd. A year or so ago, he was the most coveted striker around. He moved to Monaco where he is more than adequately compensated, but he was injured and suddenly, he is being offered here, there and everywhere. Monaco have also sold James Rodriguez, so they are significantly weaker than they were 12 months ago. Apparently, their owner is going through a divorce and has tax issues to solve. And on top of that, there’s the FIFA Fair Play rules to deal with.
But could it also be that Falcao’s injury has blunted his sharpness and they want to put him out on loan to see how he performs over the next year? We will soon find out.
Likewise, all eyes will be on Danny Welbeck at Arsenal. Many people feel that Welbeck is over-rated and too short on goals for a striker with international aspirations. Arsenal are in need of a prolific striker who can lead the line and in Welbeck they have not bought that kind of player. Arsene Wenger has a squad full of players who can fill the role that Welbeck will most likely take up. And Welbeck’s no better than them. The signing seems to be, “we are under pressure, we have some money, we have to spend it”. In doing just that, once more Arsenal have settled for second tier firepower.
Emirates regulars were also calling for reinforcements at centre back and a defensive midfielder. At the moment, Arsenal only really have Per Mertesecker and Laurent Koscielny in the centre and overall, just half a dozen defenders. If Arsenal were going to go for a forward, it needed to be a marquee name. Have they moved the needle in that direction? No.
While a top four place is almost assured for Arsenal, United’s ability to achieve Champions League football is questionable. They probably have the players, but it will take time to mould them into Van Gaal’s way. Has he got that time?