As Manchester United gear up for another summer of big-spending ahead of a return to the Champions League, they will be acutely aware that the majority of last summer’s signings have hardly hit the ground running.
And the two headline arrivals, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, have struggled more than most. Di Maria, signed for a British transfer record €82.7 million, moved to Old Trafford having played a vital role in Real Madrid’s Champions League success in 2013-14 and Argentina’s run to last summer’s World Cup final.
There was much fanfare, too, when Falcao rocked up in Manchester on transfer deadline day, less than 48 hours after it had appeared he was on his way to Madrid.
But while things looked promising in their first handful of games, the form of each player has tailed off dramatically.
With both earning a whopping €416,000 per week, the following figures will make grim reading for United’s bean counters.
For Di Maria alone – considering the fee the Red Devils promised to pay Madrid, along with the 36 weeks’ worth of wages since he committed himself to Louis van Gaal’s revolution – United have so far paid out €97.7m. If he stays at Old Trafford for the full five years on his contract, he will take home €108m in basic salary alone.
But it has been a complicated season for the Argentine. He actually has 10 assists, the second highest tally of any Premier League player, but you get the sense that if he played with a cooller head he would have racked up far, far more.
His appearance from the bench against Liverpool at Anfield essentially summed up his debut season. He played a fine ball to Juan Mata for the Spaniard’s sublime bicycle kick, and in the final moments he made an intelligent pass to Daley Blind, who then earned a penalty. But, in truth, everything else he tried on that day went to waste – ill-advised dribbles, poor touches and overambitious passes. At one point he caught the ball in both arms before it had even gone out of play.
As it stands, those 10 Premier League assists have cost United €10.4m each. He has another one in the FA Cup, making it €8,884,128 per assist in all competitions. A fair old chunk for anybody’s money.
The headline figure, though, is when it comes to goals. Di Maria’s four in all competitions cash in at €24,433,000 each. In terms of league goals alone, that figure rises to €32.5m – even if that beautiful lob against Leicester City was worth its weight in gold.
United have paid €3,153,146 for each of his 31 appearances in all competitions, or €4,249,109 for each of his 23 starts. Per minute, it works out at €49,349.
He has fired off 39 shots in the Premier League, at a mere €2,505,751 each, and 18 of those have been on target, bringing the figure up to €5,427,659.
The Argentine, for all his struggles, has been creative in patches and has actually laid on 63 chances in total for team-mates, at €1,550,580 each. He has made a total of 839 passes, at €116,407 each, of which 654 were successful (€149,337). His probing has resulted in 164 passes into the final third (€595,396 each), and he boasts 458 successful passes in the opposition half (€213,194).
His 41 successful crosses, meanwhile, have set the club back €2,381,535 a pop.
For Falcao, the record loan signing, the figures are just as stark. Although there was no permanent transfer fee – he only set United back €8.3m in the shape of an up-front loan fee – he still commands a massive salary and to this day he has cost the club €23,266,085.
The ailing hitman has started just 13 games, working out at €1,789,698 each. Having not found the back of the net since January, the Colombian has scored just four times for United. That, staggeringly, is €5.8m per goal.
It is no surprise really, considering his shooting stats. His 29 efforts on goal represent €802,306 a go, and with just 16 on target that’s €1,453,838 each. In his last 13 league appearances, he has had a total of one shot on target.
Unfortunately, he has hardly been a creative force either.
In 28 total appearances, (€830,695 each), he has set up just 18 chances in all competitions, at a cost of €1,549,311 for every one. Having played 1435 minutes in all competitions (€16,206 per minute), that is one chance created every 79 minutes. In three FA Cup appearances, he has scored no goals and created no chances whatsover – against Yeovil Town, Cambridge United and Preston North End.
His total of 386 passes weigh in at €116,265 each, and the 330 successful passes bring that up to €149,142. In the opposition half he has made 236 successful passes (€98,498), and in the final third 104 of his passes have reached their target (€223,516). He has four assists, which, like his goals, also come to a remarkable €5.8m EACH.
Combined, Falcao and Di Maria have cost €120,796,718. That’s €3,097,380 per start, €8,056,299 per assist, and €15,105,561 per goal.