Belfast Telegraph

Falcao must prove worth - Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal has told Radamel Falcao he still has to prove his worth at Manchester United even though the club have forked out a considerable amount of money for the striker.

United beat a host of top clubs to the loan signing of Falcao on deadline day, but despite his reported wage packet of around £280,000 a week he has scored just three goals in 13 appearances.

To the bemusement of many fans, a fully-fit Falcao was left out of the match day squad for last week's 1-0 defeat against Southampton, with Van Gaal preferring to put 19-year-old James Wilson on the bench instead.

Van Gaal was unrepentant on the matter and insists the Colombian must prove he is up to the job if he is to get more game time and if United are to exercise their right to buy the striker for £43.5million.

"He has to prove himself, that we have agreed. 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," the United boss said.

"If a player costs £95million or £5,000 it's not any difference for me.

"You have to prove yourself. A player of £95million has to prove himself also."

Van Gaal explained after the defeat that he had room for just one striker on the bench against Saints and opted for Wilson because he was quicker than Falcao.

Van Gaal's move to leave the former Porto striker out of his squad cast fresh doubt on the player's chances of sealing a permanent transfer to Old Trafford.

Earlier this week the player's agent Jorge Mendes said he had no idea whether his client would remain at the club beyond the end of the season

"The truth is, right now we don't know what will happen," Mendes said.

"What we do know is that he will play in one of the very best clubs in the world next season, whether that is Manchester United or not."

Van Gaal insists he has no option but to take a hard line stance with the forward, who has suffered from injury problems since his loan move from Monaco.

"If I am not like that, maybe he has less motivation," Van Gaal said.

"I have to be like that. It is difficult for the outside world (to understand that)."

Van Gaal was clearly irked by a question about how Falcao had responded to being omitted from the squad.

"That is not for you, that is not for the media," Van Gaal said at his weekly press conference.

"That is for the player and his manager. I'm sorry."

When asked whether Falcao's morale was okay, the Dutchman said bluntly: "I think so."

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 were strengthened when Robin van Persie hobbled off in the second half of the loss to Saints with an ankle injury.

Van Gaal refused to reveal how long Van Persie will be out for, but it seems highly unlikely he will play on Saturday.

"I have read in the papers in the Netherlands that he is injured so we shall see," Van Gaal said.

Van Gaal was a little bit more forthcoming when questioned about the possibility of signing players in the January transfer window.

United have been linked with moves for Kevin Strootman, Seamus Coleman and Nathaniel Clyne - among others - but according to Van Gaal, there is only a small possibility he will sign anyone this month.

"I don't think that we shall be very active [in the transfer market] as not many players of a certain level are available," the former Bayern Munich coach said.

"When we buy a player he has to be better than the players that are playing now and that is a difficult job."

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