Belfast Telegraph

Radamel Falcao fulfils his dream as Danny Welbeck joins Arsenal

By Ian Herbert

Radamel Falcao last night declared that playing for "one of the truly great teams" like Manchester United was a lifetime's ambition, after the Old Trafford club committed around £19m to bring him from Monaco for just one season on loan.

Falcao was desperate to leave Monaco and, though United were not his first choice, their offer was the only one on the table by yesterday morning.

But he said of his new club: "It's a dream come true to join a club like Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"I've always dreamt about playing for one of the truly great teams and winning lots of trophies. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you can't turn that down.

"I'm a huge fan of English football and watch it whenever I can. Now the reality is I'm going to play there."

The Colombian striker touched down at Manchester Airport at 6.48pm last night for a medical at United's Carrington training ground.

The £6m signing-on fee United have agreed to pay for the 28-year-old takes their outlay on players beyond £150m this summer. But it is by agreeing to the Colombian's wages that they take the biggest financial hit.

Other Premier League clubs were quoted £18m a year – nearly £346,000 a week – when Falcao's representatives first began touting him.

It is unlikely United have paid more than £300,000 and the figure may be closer to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie's £250,000 per week. United have an option to buy the player for €55m (£43.4m) at the end of the season.

The move was attractive to United because it allowed them to release both Javier Hernandez, who has gone on loan to Real Madrid, and Danny Welbeck, who moved to Arsenal for around £16m last night after insisting that he would not join Tottenham Hotspur.

But it also allowed United to affirm that they are capable of signing the world's best players when they come on to the market.

The choreography is of huge significance to a club who are trying to demonstrate their presence in a way that Manchester City were five years ago.

Welbeck's on-off departure to Arsenal was a dramatic one. Having trained at Arsenal's centre, London Colney, with England yesterday morning, he was given the afternoon off to sort out his future and turned up at Colney again – seemingly in an attempt to force a move.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's manager, was in Rome at a charity event. Welbeck wanted a permanent move rather than a £6m loan deal.

As Welbeck moved out, Daley Blind moved in, signing from Ajax for £14m.

The possibility of a move for Falcao began to materialise last Monday, when the player's agent, Jorge Mendes, arrived in Manchester to begin discussions about the deal taking Angel di Maria – another of his clients – to Old Trafford.

At that stage, City seemed to be in pole position. But despite the club's director of football, Txiki Begiristain, in Monaco for the Champions League draw last Thursday, having talks at the French club, he was resigned to missing out due to the Financial Fair Play rules.

Falcao's representatives also tried to move the player to Real Madrid but they were not interested.

It was on Saturday that United emerged as serious contenders. Louis van Gaal is understood to have urged United's chief executive, Ed Woodward, to seize the opportunity.

Van Gaal was impressed with Falcao's contribution when his Netherlands team played Colombia in a friendly last November, drawing 0-0.

Falcao will work with Van Persie, possibly with Rooney operating as a No 10, though Van Persie's fitness has been a concern.

United's earning power means that the outlay on Falcao's wages will not leave them in breach of new Premier League rules, which stipulate that clubs whose wage bill increases by more than £4m year on year must bring in the equivalent extra money in new commercial revenues.

United have added around £1m a week to their wage roster this summer, with the salaries of Falcao (£250,000 a week), Di Maria (£230,000), Blind and Ander Herrera (£90,000) and Marcos Rojo (£70,000).

But they have also lost £650,000 a week with departures including Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Hernandez. A £15.6m annual wage lift is more than offset by the new Chevrolet shirt deal.

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