Falcao will join the best, but Madrid have Benzema – Mendes

The Portuguese agent has suggested the Colombia international will be on the move again this summer but that a move to the Bernabeau looks unlikely

Jorge Mendes says Falcao’s next club will be one of the seven best in the world – but not Real Madrid.

The Colombia international joined Manchester United on loan from Monaco this past summer, but has started just eight of the club’s 22 Premier League matches this season.

And agent Mendes has expressed his disappointment at coach Louis Van Gaal’s reluctance to make the 28-year-old a vital part of his side, hinting that Falcao will likely be on the move again when his loan deal expires in June.

“I would have liked it if Falcao was with [former Man Utd manager] Sir Alex Ferguson,” Mendes told La Sexta.

“He is a player to play 90 minutes and I don’t understand [why he isn’t].

“Falcao will play for one of the seven best [teams] in the world next, but Real Madrid have Benzema.”

Madrid were interested in Falcao prior to his reported €60 million move to Monaco in the summer of 2013, but city rivals Atletico were reluctant to do business.

Mendes also said he expects Portugal international Pepe to remain with Madrid through next season.

“Pepe will have much more time in Madrid,” Mendes said, “Because last year the president had the chance to sell [him to Manchester City] and did not.”

Pekerman backs Falcao to make it at Manchester United

The striker’s international coach is concerned by his situation in England, but has no doubts he will emerge stronger from the experience

Colombia boss Jose Pekerman is confident Radamel Falcao will overcome a difficult start to life at Manchester United.

The 28-year-old striker moved to Old Trafford on a big-money loan deal from Monaco in the summer but has struggled to establish himself in England.

A series of injuries have prevented him from displaying the kind of prolific goalscoring form that made him such a feared marksman at the likes of River Plate, Porto and Atletico Madrid.

Falcao was dropped by United boss Louis van Gaal for the recent Premier League home defeat by Southampton and has managed only nine starts under the Dutchman all season.

With this summer’s Copa América to consider, Pekerman admitted to being concerned by the forward’s situation, but backed him to demonstrate his quality.

“It’s a difficult period for him, but he’s a proven player with regard to his mentality and he’ll keep on working hard,” Pekerman told Caracol Radio station.

“I’m sure that this [difficult period] will just be temporary and he will come through it, I don’t have any doubt.

“The most important thing is that he is well [after his injuries].

“Sometimes these situations are not easy… it’s a shame because he’s a lad we want to be playing regularly as he’s a great player, but I expect it will sort itself out soon.”

After such an impressive World Cup in Brazil, hopes are high that Colombia can challenge at the Copa América.

However, as with Falcao’s situation, Pekerman acknowledged that it was difficult to ensure that his players would all arrive at the top of their game in the summer.

“At the moment things are not the same for all our players, as each of them has differing personal situations,” he said.

“When the moment comes, we will look to have them in the best shape possible and think about the Copa América.”

Shaw & Rojo under the microscope as Van Gaal assesses evolving Man Utd squad

SPECIAL REPORT: The Dutchman has yet to make up his mind on two of his summer arrivals because they have struggled to stay fit, but there are others fighting for their futures

By Sam Lee

For most Premier League clubs, FA Cup clashes are increasingly an opportunity to try out youngsters and run the rule over fringe players. For Manchester United right now, they’re an opportunity to work out how good the first-teamers are.

Understandably, given the state of the club last April, there are doubts over a number of Louis van Gaal’s players, and not just academy graduates or ageing midfielders.

Luke Shaw, whose £30 million summer deal was largely put in place during David Moyes’s tenure, has endured a stop-start season. So far the Dutch coach is not convinced, purely because he has not had the opportunity to be.

It is a similar story for Marcos Rojo, despite being very much a Van Gaal signing. Is he good enough to be first choice next season, or merely a squad player? Right now, nobody at Carrington is entirely sure.

That is a prevalent theme at United currently. One well-placed source describes it best: “there’s a sense of a purge in the air”.

But while Shaw and Rojo are not in danger of being shown the exit door any time soon, the same cannot be said for most of the club’s other defenders.

Rafael, still deemed too rash after a number of years in the first team, will be allowed to leave this summer. He has failed to capitalise on his stand-out 2012-13 campaign, and other targets are being assessed as the club plan another summer spree.

                                                                                                            Premier League 2014-15 stats

None of the club’s three established centre-backs are assured of their places next season, either. Talks to extend the contract of Phil Jones, once described as having the potential to be the greatest player in United history, have gone cold in recent months, setting tongues wagging around Carrington. He, like many others, has battled with injuries and been beset by maddening lapses of concentration.

Chris Smalling has recovered well from his derby red card in November but has been the subject of long-term interest from Arsenal. To highlight the Gunners’ intent, they not only tried to include the England defender in last summer’s proposed Thomas Vermaelen switch, but also in the 2012 deal for Robin van Persie.

With Van Gaal able to select from a full squad, minus Ashley Young, for the game against Southampton earlier this month, Jonny Evans, last summer’s tip to establish himself as the club’s top defender, was left out. The Northern Irishman has perhaps been the most frustrating performer, in between his own injury struggles, given that his promising displays in recent seasons clash so markedly with the scatter-brained showings of the past months.

Links with Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi, who United tried to sign from Porto last January before he moved to Mestalla, surfaced in Spain this week but the Red Devils insist he is not a target. Mats Hummels, however, remains a priority and attempts to bring him to the north west are inevitable in the coming months.

There is uncertainty in midfield, too, and the constant links with Kevin Strootman tell their own story, especially where Ander Herrera is concerned. The Spaniard, another costly signing, has looked very capable in his fleeting opportunities to impress, but continually struggles for game time, especially since Michael Carrick’s return to fitness.

With Van Gaal still wrestling to get to grips with his players, having already shown Javier Hernandez, Nani and Wilfried Zaha the door, he has been given a lot to mull over. He appears to have made his mind up over Darren Fletcher, however.

The Scot, an excellent United servant and a key player in the club’s especially triumphant years between 2007 and 2011, could even make his exit this month. It is an amazing achievement to have battled back from chronic ulcerative colitis to play Premier League football again, but it seems his United days are numbered. The fact he was substituted at half-time against Aston Villa in December because he wasn’t moving the ball quickly enough is an especially damning indictment given Van Gaal’s happiness with his team’s recent performances, deemed slow and predictable by many fans and pundits.

Radamel Falcao’s recent marginalisation did put the striker’s nose out of joint, as widely reported. That is to be expected of almost any big-name, established footballer, highlighted by the recent troubles surrounding Lionel Messi at Barcelona. The ongoing uncertainty around his position, and worries about his sharpness, are inevitable given he had barely played for Monaco since recovering from the serious knee injury he picked up a year ago. His own fitness troubles have further stalled his progress and the decision to omit him altogether, despite being fully fit, did not sit well with the player’s influential camp.

But these are transitional times at Old Trafford. Given the problems at the time of Moyes’ exit, it can only be expected that the new manager, whoever he may be, would need time to run the rule over what he has inherited, let alone the signings needed to plug the many gaps in the squad.

It speaks volumes that the team and playing style are under such scrutiny from fans and media alike despite having lost just once in 13 matches. A year ago, supporters would have killed for a comparative record.

There will be victims, though. Adnan Januzaj is exhibit ‘A’ on that front, having been told that he currently has no place in his manager’s plans, and will have to wait until the end of January to seal a loan move.

The arrival of Victor Valdes highlights Van Gaal’s willingness to build a squad capable of winning the league – and also how highly he can value players with whom he has already worked. The Spaniard has been fully fit since before Christmas and is ready to make his debut on Friday night against Cambridge.

His arrival, of course, has meant Anders Lindegaard is free to leave, but he is due a significant pay-off which is currently holding up a move away, with a number of clubs, mainly in Spain and Italy, interested in the Dane.

And this is exactly the point. Manchester United are rebuilding, new players will be coming in and space will be made to accommodate them. There is constant pressure for players to prove their worth, and they need to take any opportunity to do so. An FA Cup clash against Cambridge United is as good a time as any.

Why Manchester United stay does not add up for Falcao

COMMENT: The Colombian is determined to make permanent his loan stay at Old Trafford but will know that his current output is not enough to justify what would be a huge outlay

By Greg Stobart

Radamel Falcao is smart enough to know that the maths does not add up for Manchester United when his current form is weighed against the cost of signing him permanently in the summer.

The Colombian has scored just three goals in 13 appearances for United since his loan move from Monaco on the final day of the summer transfer window – and he must fear that he will be sent back to the principality at the end of the season.

United have agreed a deal to make Falcao’s move permanent for €56 million but it would be ludicrous to exercise that option – in addition to a €306,000-a-week salary package – while the 28-year-old is so out of sorts.

The primary reason why Falcao moved to United on loan in the first place revolved around concerns about the serious knee injury that forced him to miss the second half of last season and the World Cup.

The €8m loan fee was seen as a calculated gamble by United executives after several rounds of talks with his representative, Jorge Mendes, but Falcao started slowly and was hampered but niggling injuries including the calf problem that restricted his appearances in October and November.

*Premier League stats

Louis van Gaal has continually appeared to talk down Falcao, whether complaining about his lack of fitness or suggesting that he depends on the form of his team-mates.

Falcao insists that he is now 100 per cent fit and has scored twice in United’s last four league fixtures but he must maintain that level of return for the remainder of the season if he wants to stay at Old Trafford.

Which he does. The former Porto and Atletico Madrid man has made it clear that he intends to be at the club beyond this season and is playing for his future.

“From my point of view, yes, I want to stay but obviously I have to analyse the situation,” Falcao said in December.

“I’ll see if I play more and see what decision the board takes but, from my point of view, I really want to stay.”

But can he rediscover the sort of form that saw him score 72 goals in 87 matches for Porto and 70 in 90 appearances for Atletico Madrid?

He turns 29 in February so United can reasonably anticipate that his productivity will decline over the course of a long-term contract, although he displayed his famed predatory instincts for his recent goals against Aston Villa and Stoke.

The Red Devils’ upcoming fixtures would seem to offer an opportunity for Falcao to hit his stride and consistently deliver. They face Southampton on Sunday before games against QPR, Cambridge United and Leicester City in the remainder of January.

United sources say that Falcao is an outstanding professional and excellent in training but he needs to produce more in a red shirt to justify another huge outlay for the club on the back of last summer’s €190m spending spree.

It is not like Falcao can complain about a lack of service when he is joined in the United attack by Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata.

As it stands, Van Gaal might reflect that he would be better off showing more faith in youngster James Wilson or signing a cheaper alternative to Falcao next summer. That would free funds to sign a top-class central defender and central midfielder, two areas in which the Dutchman is desperate to improve his team next season, particularly with extra fixtures from their anticipated return to European competition.

These are the scenarios which United will be analysing when they decide whether or not to pull the trigger on the option for a €56m permanent transfer that he already been agreed and signed.

At the moment, Falcao’s chances of staying at the club look bleak. He needs to quickly get back to his best and make the maths work in his favour.

Falcao: I'm settled at Manchester United now

The Colombian says he has eased into Premier League life and is relishing the challenge of English football despite injury problems casting his long-term stay in doubt

Radamel Falcao insists he is settled at Manchester United, fuelling suggestions that he will extend his stay at Old Trafford beyond this season.

United have shaken hands on a €56 million deal to sign Falcao when his lucrative season-long loan from Monaco ends next summer, though they are reserving the right to wait until the Colombian proves his long-term fitness before committing to the transfer.

Last month Falcao confirmed he would like to become a permanent fixture at United and the 28-year-old has now reiterated how well he is settling into life in Manchester.

“I’m good,” he told the club’s official website. “My family are comfortable. We’re enjoying life in Manchester and here at the club. The people have been great with me, with my family. We’re happy and very grateful.

“Right from the start, my colleagues welcomed me. They supported me and helped me with whatever I needed. They are a really humble group of players, really decent and, well, I was taken aback by how kind they’ve been.”

Falcao also confirmed he is relishing the challenge of adapting to Premier League football – he has scored three goals in 12 Premier League appearances – and insists he has no regrets about leaving Monaco.

“It’s more attractive than the French league,” he added. “Defenders are stronger and more aggressive. In a good way, you know? It’s intense and, well, overall just more physical.”