Radamel Falcao: Man Utd's new striker is known as 'El Tigre'

By Tim VickeryBBC Sport
Radamel Falcao Garcia
Manchester United have the option to buy Radamel Falcao at the end of his loan deal

Son of a defender, named after a midfielder, Radamel Falcao Garcia turned out to be a striker.

This is not a player with the virtues of versatility that Louis van Gaal prizes so highly.

The 28-year-old Colombian is an out-and-out centre forward, one of the best penalty area predators in the business.

Attacking the ball, front to goal, he is a force of nature. Like so many of the best Colombian players, his game developed with a move south to Argentina - he came up through the youth ranks with River Plate, where his compatriot Juan Pablo Angel also played before joining Aston Villa at the start of the century.

Radamel Falcao Garcia
Radamel Falcao made his mark at Argentinian side River Plate during 2005-09

Argentine football often toughens up the Colombians mentally and develops them technically. In the case of Falcao, River Plate was a good finishing school for a natural finisher.

Right from the start his speciality was cutting in towards goal on the diagonal from the edge of the area.

In his time in Europe he has become more confident, powerful and effective: 'El Tigre' the tiger, who can tear defences apart with cool efficiency and frightening power off either foot or in the air.

Outside the box, though, he does not offer anything like as much.

The Colombian national team, for example, found it very hard to play him up front on his own.

Teofilo Gutierrez has usually been used alongside him for his capacity to drift out to the wings and link the play with his back to goal, aspects of Falcao's game which are not particularly impressive.

How United's strikers compare
League data since 2011-12Radamel Falcao *Wayne RooneyRobin van Persie
Games played889399
Minutes played736675768177
Shot conversion rate (%)25.220.822.1

Indeed, Falcao's international record was very disappointing until the emergence of James Rodriguez, whose attacking midfield quality could split the opposing defence and give Falcao a supply line.

But other than working out how best to give him good service, Falcao should provide few problems for Van Gaal. Deeply religious and well educated (he studied journalism while at River Plate), Falcao is unlikely to throw temper tantrums at Old Trafford.

Radamel Falcao has joined Manchester United on loan

He even sat alongside Colombia coach Jose Pekerman as the announcement was made that he would not be included in the World Cup squad, despite training round the clock to recover from a knee ligament injury.

Indeed, Falcao has a powerful incentive to make this move work. He is the king of the Europa League, winning the trophy in consecutive seasons with Porto and Atletico Madrid in 2011 and 12, and top scoring in both years.

But he has had few chances in the Champions League, and now, after a year with Monaco, he faces another season out of the premier club competition.

At the age of 28, time is running out for 'El Tigre' to prey on Champions League defences. Maybe he can score the goals to ensure that those big European nights return to Old Trafford.

Radamel Falcao Garcia
Falcao's AS Monaco team-mates took to the field wearing shirts saying "Fuerza Tigre" - "Come on Tiger" after he suffered a knee injury which ruled him out of action for several months