Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is set to spring a major surprise after the international break by dropping Robin van Persie from his starting line-up in order to accommodate new loan signing Radamel Falcao.
This is according to the Express, who claim that Van Persie is the player likely to be sacrificed following the world-class Colombia international’s arrival.
Van Persie championed the appointment of Van Gaal as Manchester United boss earlier this summer. The two of them have a fantastic working relationship, stemming back to the time Van Gaal was made head coach at the Netherlands national team in 2012, but it could be placed under intense pressure over the forthcoming weeks.
RVP-Van Gaal relationship strained
The London Evening Standard report that the relationship between the two men is becoming increasingly strained, with the first cracks emerging during this summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
Van Persie was unhappy at being substituted by Van Gaal during matches despite enjoying an excellent start to the tournament, while he was then overlooked for the Manchester United captaincy by the same man in favour of Wayne Rooney.
Rooney and Mata to retain places
Rooney is unlikely to be dropped, despite his poor recent form, because of his status as club captain.
The Express believe that Spain international Juan Mata is set to retain his place in United’s starting line-up, which could mean Van Persie dropping down to the bench for the Red Devils’ next Premier League fixture against Queens Park Rangers on September 14.
Van Persie, who completed his controversial £24 million move to Manchester United from Arsenal in the summer of 2012, has produced disappointing performances in both of his appearances for the Red Devils so far this season against Sunderland and Burnley.
The 31-year-old looked well off the pace and Van Gaal may subsequently opt to deploy the prolific Falcao, who joined United on a season-long loan deal on Monday, against Harry Redknapp’s men.
How will Van Persie react?
How Van Persie will react to being dropped to the subs’ bench remains to be seen.
Since arriving at Old Trafford, he has always been United’s first-choice centre-forward, and played a key role in helping the club secure their 20th league title in May 2013.
Van Persie scored 30 goals in 48 appearances in his debut season with the Red Devils - and while he endured an injury-hit campaign last term, he still finished the season having scored 18 goals in 28 appearances.
But it appears that he could be faced with a surprise spell on the bench after the current international break.