Luke Irelan-Hill picks out four players who could be Louis van Gaal’s 20-goal-a-season striker at Manchester United.
If Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao are not prolific enough, then who do Manchester United need?
Last weekend, Man United manager Louis van Gaal claimed that the Old Trafford giants need a 20-goal-a-season striker if they are to challenge for the title. And with the lacklustre Radamel Falcao set to leave at the end of the season, a vacancy will shortly be available.
Most managers would love to be able to call upon the services of any of the three already mentioned, so it was a massive surprise to hear Louis Van Gaal’s claim that United do not already have a 20 goal plus striker.
Despite their reputations, the United boss may have a point as Wayne Rooney has been used predominantly in midfield this campaign, while both Van Persie and Falcao may well have passed their peak as a result of age and injury.
With the summer fast approaching and reports that £150 million will be made available in transfer funds, it appears that despite the inadequacies in midfield and defence, that Louis Van Gaal believes there is much room for improvement in attack as well.
So who could fill the void?
United’s attack has been far too one-paced at times this season with none of their forwards having the extra burst of speed to get beyond opposition defences, especially when Van Persie and Falcao are on the field at the same time.
Lyon’s Alex Lacazette (pictured top of page) is blessed with devastating speed and he has been unplayable in France at times this season.
He is currently tops the Ligue 1 scoring chart this season with 21 goals from 75 shots and he has also created 40 chances for his teammates. Before becoming a prolific striker he was an out-and-out winger and he has completed more successful take-ons this season than any United player.
Arguably this could be a one-off season for the 23year old, however his year-on-year improvement shows that he could get even better in the future.
Think Filippo Inzaghi, but without constantly being caught offside. Although he does not possess natural pace or the change of speed which means he does not often beat his marker, Mauro Icardi has an incredible ability to be in the right place at the right time.
With 14 league goals this season, which makes him joint top scorer in Serie A alongside former Red Carlos Tevez, his eye for goal has given him a chance conversion rate of just under 25%.
The downside to the Inter man is that he averages just 19 passes per 90 minutes this season which shows he is not involved in a lot of team play, however he does come alive inside the penalty area and his intelligent movement and ruthless finishing draws comparisons to past United prolific goal-scorers such as Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Dwight Yorke and Dennis Law.
This 21 year-old has shot onto the European radar this season with his sensational run of form for Palermo which has already brought about comparisons to his fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero.
His lethal pace and composure in front of goal have led to 12 goals in 24 games and he has already created 37 chances and completed 63 take-ons, more than any other forward in Serie A.
Palermo have put a price tag of £30 million on the young striker, but as a team that need a regular goal scorer this is unlikely to put United off – however it may well be that Louis Van Gall goes for someone who has already proven themselves on the biggest stage.
Perhaps the most obvious option would be to move Wayne Rooney back to his preferred role of striker. The United captain already has 227 goals in 469 appearances and with an abundance of midfield players at the manager’s disposal, there is no reason that he cannot return to lead the front line.
On top of this he has already proven himself to be a natural goal-scorer with a keen eye for goal, and with goals on the biggest occasion against the biggest teams, he will not cost the club a penny. More importantly this will allow the manager to spend his transfer budget on his defence which has shown its vulnerability on countless occasions this season.
Overall, it appears that Louis van Gall continues to see Wayne Rooney as a midfielder and does not seem likely to extend Radamel Falcao’s stay at Old Trafford. But perhaps the biggest worry for United fans is the lack of options that are currently coming through the youth set-up which was always so fruitful under Sir Alex Ferguson. The news way under Louis van Gaal seems to be to spend big instead of building for the future.