Radamel Falcao’s arrival at Manchester United means the club possesses one of the most revered set of attacking players in world football.
Question marks may still linger over the strength in depth in the defence but the United faithful are understandably licking their lips at the prospect of a plethora of attacking talent at the club’s disposal.
They have every reason to as well because ‘El Tigre’ arrives with a devastating goalscoring track record across several countries and two continents.
The 28-year-old started his career at Colombian professional side Lanceros and he notched his one and only goal for the club as a 15-year-old before Argentine giants River Plate spotted his talent and handed him a professional deal at the club.
Falcao played four seasons for the Argentines, maturing physically into a powerful frontman combining strength with his technique under the tutelage of Diego Simeone, who he would later be reunited with. He netted 45 goals in 105 appearances before FC Porto pipped fierce rivals Benfica to his signature in 2009 for just under €4m euros in a third-party ownership deal.
It was in the Primera Liga that El Tigre really came into his element. His first full season at Estadio do Dragao saw him net 34 goals in 43 appearances but his second year saw unprecedented success for him and the club under the guidance of Andre Villas Boas. The club went through the entire season unbeaten with Falcao firing in 38 goals. In the 16 matches that the striker played in the Europa League, he racked up a stunning total of 18 goals (including the final’s winning strike) – a tournament record.
This led to Falcao being nicknamed ‘King of the Europa League’ and his performances prompted Atletico Madrid to spend around €52m to bring him to the Vicente Calderon.
Falcao continued to force his name into legendary status in the Europa League by firing his new club to glory in the competition, this time hitting 12 goals and totalling 36 in all competitions.
His second and final season in Madrid was again prolific with 34 goals in 41 appearances, including a scintillating hat-trick against Chelsea when he single-handedly dismantled the then European champions.
Atletico would end the season on a high, ending their 26-game win-less streak against city rival’s Real to lift the Copa Del Rey in what was ultimately Falcao’s final game for the club before joining AS Monaco.
The striker once again thrived in a new environment with 13 goals in his first 22 appearances, including two strikes in three appearances this month following a six-month spell on the sidelines due to a serious knee injury sustained in March.
Falcao has scored precisely 200 club career goals in 305 appearances but a more accurate reflection is his 155 strikes in 200 matches since joining European football five years ago.
Since 2011, El Tigre has netted 63 goals in 88 appearances, or a goal every 117 minutes which is marginally better than the goals per minutes ratios of both Robin van Persie (120) and Wayne Rooney (133).
An indicator of Falcao’s playing style is that he has only assisted in four goals in the same three-year period in comparison to Rooney (24) and van Persie (21), but that’s precisely why Van Gaal brought him to Old Trafford.
Make no mistake, Falcao is only at United for one reason – to score goals, and that is something he will do in abundance.