Van Gaal defends Welbeck sale as he welcomes Falcao’s arrival to Manchester United

The Dutch manager derides Danny Welbeck's record as Old Trafford's new No 9 hopes for a long stay at club.

Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal, centre, with new signings Radamel Falcao, left, and Daley Blind, right. Phil Noble / Reuters
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MANCHESTER // To Louis van Gaal's left was a man he regards as one of the finest forwards in world football. To his surprise, he was being questioned about his decision to sell a striker he deems his inferior. Danny Welbeck may be a cause celebre. To Van Gaal, he was a lost cause.
His answer was blunt, his ruthlessness apparent. Welbeck may be a United fan, a player regarded highly for his work rate and adaptability, but his goalscoring record paled compared with those of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Or, indeed, Van Gaal's latest recruit, Radamel Falcao.
Falcao, who was introduced at Old Trafford yesterday, has scored 155 goals in 200 games in European football. Welbeck mustered a mere 29 in 142 appearances for United.
"Danny Welbeck was here since he was nine," Van Gaal said. "He plays, after [a loan spell at] Sunderland, three seasons at Manchester United, but he doesn't have the record of Van Persie or Rooney. That is the standard, but that is why we let him go."
In short, Welbeck, who joined Arsenal for £16 million (Dh75.9m), did not meet the standards Van Gaal desired.
He would rather the fourth striker's spot in his squad goes to James Wilson, whose two-game United career has brought two goals. The implication is that Welbeck represented the tried-but-failed option. "We let him go because [of] Falcao, but also [because of] the youngsters who can fit in," the manager said.
Falcao was acquired in the closing minutes of the transfer window, borrowed for the season from Monaco.
The Colombian has become one of football's nomads. He now has a fifth club in a fifth country in five years, and though his time at Old Trafford is due to end next summer, he wants to lay down some roots. His aim is to earn a permanent move and finally settle somewhere.
"I hope to stay many years at Manchester United and make history at this club," said Falcao, 28. "I dream of playing in a team like this and now I want to stay."
One of the curiosities of Falcao's career is that such a prolific player – "one of the best strikers in the world," Van Gaal said – won't play in the Uefa Champions League for a fifth successive season.
United are absentees from Europe's grandest stage for the first time since 1995/96. They finished seventh last season in the Premier League and are yet to win this season under Van Gaal. Nevertheless, a newcomer is convinced a corner will be turned.
"Manchester United build a big team this season and in future seasons, and I would like to be here and part of his project," Falcao said. "It will be great for us."
The project, as he termed it, has required £153 million in expenditures and means he will compete with Rooney and Van Persie for the striking spots.
The question of precisely how, and where, the six summer signings are accommodated remains to be resolved, although Van Gaal, in argumentative fashion, insisted he had made selection easier by trimming his squad.
"How to fit in these players is not so difficult when you let go 14 players and only six come in," he said. One theory is that Falcao was required because of Van Persie's knee problems. It was swiftly rebuffed.
"He is more fit than ever before," Van Gaal said.
Falcao has only played six games since recovering from a cruciate ligament injury. "I am comfortable with my knee," he said. "I started to play two months ago and I improve a lot in those months."
Falcao made an immediate impression in his first workout with his new teammates.
"He got one ball and it was in the goal," the United manager said.
"He confirmed it in his first training session with me. When you see his record, it is unbelievable."
And when he saw Welbeck's record, in contrast, he felt it was unsatisfactory.
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