MANCHESTER UNITED have taken an incredible £24m gamble on Radamel Falcao firing them back into the Champions League.
United are understood to have agreed to pay Colombia striker Falcao an eye-watering £350,000 a week – £120,000 more than top earner Wayne Rooney.
Falcao, 28, only agreed to join United on a season-long loan if they matched his £10m a year tax free salary at Monaco.
To ensure he is on the same £184,000-a-week ‘take home’ wages in Britain, United have to pay him around £350,000.
That works out at £18m a year on top of his £6m loan fee and the huge investment underlines United’s desperation to return to European football’s top table next season.
But club insiders claim they can easily afford the wages after signing massive sponsorship deals worth over £1bn with Chevrolet and Adidas in the last year.
And they anticipate shirt sales will go through the roof at Old Trafford with the signing of one of Europe’s super stars capturing the imagination of the fans.
Real Madrid netted £20m in world-wide sale of shirts within a week of signing Falcao’s Colombian team-mate James Rodriguez this summer.
With Falcao returning from nine months out with a serious knee ligament injury – he missed the World Cup – it made sense for United to agree a loan deal to take a close look at him.
But they are highly likely to take up their first option to complete a £50m permanent move next summer if he recaptures the scoring form that saw him net 155 goals in just 200 games for Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco and helps them back into the Premier League’s top four.
Manchester City are huge admirers of Falcao but pulled out of the deal because the enormous figures did not stack up for them under UEFA’s financial fair play regulations. Arsenal, too, were put off by the sums involved.
The sensational deadline-day deal came as a major surprise but United decided they could not afford to turn down the chance to take Falcao, especially with concerns over Robin Van Persie injury record.
Even with van Persie and Wayne Rooney, United managed only 64 goals last season when they finished seventh under David Moyes – their lowest tally in the Premier League era. Champions City scored 102 and runners-up Liverpool 101.
Falcao flew into Manchester from Monaco with his agent Jorge Mendes last night to complete a medical and agree personal terms.
He becomes United’s sixth summer signing and takes their spending in the current window to a record £150m, following the deals for Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria and Daley Blind, who completed his move from Ajax last night.
Over the last 12 months United have spent over £200m, including Juan Mata in the January window and Maraoune Fellaini this time last year.
But United have trimmed their squad and wage bill with an unprecedented clear-out this summer. In the final 24 hours of the transfer window they sold Shinji Kagawa to Borussia Dortmund, Javier Hernandez joined Real Madrid on a season-long loan.