MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United sent Radamel Falcao back to Monaco on Sunday after a disappointing season-long loan in which the Colombia international failed to show the predatory instincts that once made him one of the world's top strikers.
United announced the club would not be exercising the option to sign the 29-year-old Falcao on a permanent deal, which would have cost 43.2 million pounds ($67 million) for a player who scored just four goals in 29 matches this season.
"Falcao is a top professional and a good human being," United manager Louis van Gaal. "On behalf of myself and everyone at the club I would like to wish him well for the future."
United paid around 6 million pounds (then $9 million) to Monaco on deadline day in Europe's summer transfer window last year to take Falcao on loan for the season, with an option to buy.
However, Falcao hasn't managed to reproduce the kind of form that made him stand out during prolific spells with Porto and Atletico Madrid. He doesn't appear to have recovered fully from the serious knee injury that ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and robbed him of his explosive pace and movement.
Colombia's all-time top scorer scored for United in his fourth game — a 2-1 win over Everton — but only netted three more times since October, and not in his last 13 matches.
Falcao was left out of United's squad for the final game of the season, at Hull on Sunday, through injury, according to Van Gaal. His last match was the 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Old Trafford last weekend.
The departure of Falcao leaves United short of options up front, especially with doubts surrounding the future of striker Robin van Persie.
Falcao joined Monaco from Atletico in 2013 in a deal worth 60 million euros (then $78 million).