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 at host of their rivals to sign Falcao on a £6million 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 on Friday 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 £43.5million 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 £50million to sign the striker, who is reported to be on around £280,000 a week at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal could not care less about how much the player is worth though.
“If a player costs £95million or £5,000 it’s not any difference for me,” the Dutchman said.
“You have to prove yourself. A player of £95million has to prove himself also.”
Falcao’s agent Jorge Mendes rejected to opportunity to quash speculation on his client’s future this week.
“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.’’
For Van Gaal, the situation is much more clear – a return of three goals in 13 appearances is not good enough.
Van Gaal insists he has no option but to take a hard-line stance with the forward, who has suffered with injury problems since his move.
“If I am not like that, maybe he has less motivation,” Van Gaal said.
“I have to be like that.’’