To call forward Radamel Falcao’s time with Manchester United a disappointment would be a bit of an overstatement. The Colombian talisman has netted a mere four goals in 14 starts for the Old Trafford side, less than year after suffering a major knee injury. The £16.4 million last minute loan splurge hasn’t really worked out for Louis van Gaal, but the 29-year-old’s value hasn’t completely diminished.
Real Madrid, and several of Europe’s top clubs, are reportedly interested in retaining Falcao’s services in spite of his poor play in the Premier League, at least that’s what Monaco vice president Vadim Vasilyev said to Daily Mail.
"It’s up to Manchester United to take a decision but I’m not worried for him because we have interest from other big clubs,” Vasilyev said. "Sometimes it’s just little thing that matter in football. When the technical quality is there, the mentality is there, sometimes it’s just the confidence of the coach or just little details. We tend to overreact if somebody doesn’t do well for a few years.
"Had he stayed here – I know he wanted a bigger challenger and Man United is a great club – one of our problems is efficiency in front of goal. If he was here we would not be fourth, we would be first or second."
United are unlikely to exercise the £43 million option that would make Falcao’s stay permanent, opening up an opportunity for Monaco to either bring him back to Ligue 1 or pad their coffers with another lucrative loan or full transfer fee.
Madrid’s role in the process might be in the early stages, but even if they match the fee United paid for one-year rental it would again poise Carlo Ancelotti’s team for a dominant run.
Racking up an incredible 74 goals in 20 La Liga victories, Madrid holds a reasonable four point lead over Barcelona on the league table. But with Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema leading the attack, Los Blancos would be a shoe in on both the domestic and international fronts.
Though any number of free-spending clubs could enter into the Falcao sweepstakes like Chelsea and Manchester City, the player’s best chances of returning to top form might lie where his stardom began.
Before joining Monaco in 2013 and even his stellar runs with Porto and River Plate, Falcao really became one of the globe’s most coveted players after he netted 52 goals over a three-year span with Atletico Madrid.
Ancelotti and team president Florentino Perez would no doubt enjoy landing a player of Falcao’s quality, but would likely relish in a move for one of their crosstown rivals biggest former stars.
It also serves to reason that the injured knee that kept Falcao out of Colombia’s historic World Cup run last summer isn’t fully healed. An injury of that magnitude often needs at least a year to recover and for the player’s confidence in his abilities to be restored.
And it appears Madrid are at least tinkering with the idea, and shoring up funds for a possible Falcao shock.
Los Blancos and Ancelotti can’t seem to find the right balance between defenders Raphael Varane and veteran Pepe, with the former hinting at his displeasure earlier this week.
"The competition with Pepe is not in my best interests, and it won't be in the future,” Varane said according to Daily Star. "The objective is to be on the pitch."
Varane, 21, is unhappy with his lack of first-team time and with age and a significant amount of skill on his side both United and Chelsea figure to be in play for him.
Varane’s comments come amid speculation surrounding Pepe’s contract status. The 31-year-old Portuguese star will be out of contract in 2016, but if he signs an extension the belief is Varane will request a transfer.
The Star indicates that Ancelotti might have to choose between the two players at some point. Pepe would be a cheaper alternative with a £13 million market value, compared to £22 million for Varane, but Madrid must consider the long-term ramifications of letting such a promising young talent go too soon.