Louis van Gaal has ordered Radamel Falcao to show him why he deserves a future at Manchester United.
United were hailed as the big winners on deadline day last September when they beat a host of their rivals to sign Falcao on a £6 million (Dh33.4m) loan deal from Monaco.
United chartered a private jet to fly the coveted striker over from the principality and the two-time Ballon d’Or nominee was given a standing ovation and a loud roar from the United fans when he made his debut against QPR.
Going into the reverse fixture this weekend, the tables have turned somewhat.
To the bemusement of many fans, a fully-fit Falcao was left out of the squad for last week’s 1-0 defeat against Southampton, with Van Gaal preferring to put three centre-backs and 19-year-old James Wilson on the bench instead.
Van Gaal stands by his decision and at a frosty press conference yesterday warned Falcao he still has to demonstrate he is worth more game time, and a permanent move to Old Trafford.
“He has to prove himself, that we have agreed,” said the United manager, who has the option to buy the striker for £43.5m (Dh242.5m) at the end of the season. “We have made this deal and everything is clear and it is not the end of the year so he has the chance for that.”
In 2013 Monaco paid no less than £50m (Dh278m) to sign the striker, who is reported to be on around £280,000 (Dh1.5m) a week at Old Trafford. Van Gaal could not care less about how much the player is worth though.
“If a player costs £95 million or £5,000 it’s not any difference for me,” the Dutchman said. “You have to prove yourself.’’
Falcao’s agent Jorge Mendes rejected the opportunity to quash speculation on his client’s future this week, saying: “The truth is, right now we don’t know what will happen.”
For Van Gaal, the situation is much more clear – a return of three goals in 13 appearances is not good enough.
It is also clear that Van Gaal is becoming annoyed by the subject of Falcao’s future. Almost half of the questions at his weekly press conference were on the subject and most enquiries were greeted with a short response.
When quizzed on whether Falcao would feature against QPR on Saturday, Van Gaal said: “You have to wait and see, because when I say that a part of my line-up is known I make it easy for my opponent and I don’t want to make it easy.’’
Falcao’s chances of starting at Loftus Road looked to have been strengthened when Robin van Persie hobbled off in the second half of the loss to Saints with an ankle injury.
But Van Gaal said: “It is a minor injury. I don’t think it’s a great problem.”
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