Manchester United signing Radamel Falcao is a dream signing for fans, but the Old Trafford club look as though this stuff of dreams continues to cloud their ability to confront reality and could be a disaster for their Premier League hopes.
Reports on deadline day came thick and fast describing the imminent arrival of the Colombia international on a season-long loan from AS Monaco, which could cost the Red Devils in the region of £20million.
These reports also suggest that the deal could become permanent come the end of the current campaign. Not cheap, but then Manchester United are not short of a few pounds and a move like this could really boost their image worldwide.
Two ways many people will be looking at the signing will be coming from the realists viewpoint and the fantasy football stance. Falcao is one of the biggest names in world football and, at his best, is probably the best out-and-out centre-forward in the world.
If you are a Manchester United fan the likelihood is that you were pretty pleased when the news broke that Louis van Gaal would have another world-class striker in his ranks before the transfer window closed at 11pm.
Big-spending new opponents
Since the arrival of Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco onto the European transfer spending scene has meant most of the games big names were being lured by their massive wages to a distinctly average competition in the form of Ligue 1.
If it wasn’t one of them, it was probably Real Madrid or Barcelona, as the Spanish giants have cherry-picked the world’s best players over the last few seasons. The Premier League’s two best players over the past two seasons, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez, have both made the trip to La Liga.
Claims that the Premier League is the best league in the world are somewhat undermined by the sight of it’s leading characters jetting off to warmer climes and challenging for the biggest honours.
English heading back to the top
Seeing Falcao decide to join Manchester United, amid reported interest from Real Madrid too, is something that the English game’s cheerleaders will relish dearly and is a small step towards the Premier League once again attracting the most in-demand world stars ahead of the Spanish competition – what fan of an English club would not want that?
Looking beyond this, however, we can also see that signing Falcao is far from addressing the full scale of problems at Manchester United. Loaning the former Porto and Atletico Madrid striker does not mean they won’t sign any more players, but an established, experienced centre-back and defensive midfielder is surely the priority.
Darren Fletcher is vice-captain at Old Trafford but he looks to be struggling with the extra creative burden being placed upon him as the deep lying midfielder in Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 system. The Scotland international can play the role of destroyer very effectively, but his distribution is not quite at the standard that Manchester United need.
Injuries to the likes of Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera don’t help, but their absences make no difference to the fact that Van Gaal cannot call upon a midfielder to dominate physically in the middle of the park and combine it with the ability to dominate in possession.
Is Van Gaal being Blind?
Daley Blind was another player, at the time of writing, expected to move to Old Trafford before the deadline passed. The idea will be that he can come in as a specialist defensive midfielder, though this thought is another worrying one for United supporters.
Blind can play in central defence, as a left back and operated for much of last season as a defensive midfielder in Frank de Boer’s title-winning Ajax squad. Doing this effectively in the Eredivisie is one thing, doing it in the Premier League is a whole new proposition.
This is not to say that Blind cannot be the man they need, but fearing he may not be able to hit the ground running in a new league and at a new club is a legitimate concern.
By all means, embrace the magic and fantasy football enjoyment of seeing genuine footballing superstars arrive in the Premier League, but Manchester United cannot let it stop them from seeing the reality that the less glamorous side of the game is where their attention is most needed.