category: England
Van Gaal

Caption: Van Gaal probably won’t find a new striker amongst this lot

After many great seasons in the Premier League, Robin van Persie was once widely considered as one of the best strikers in the world. Things change rapidly in football, though, and Manchester United fans will be glad to see the back of him. He is set to leave for Turkey outfit Fenerbahce on an all-expenses paid, one-way ticket. Another player who they have gladly said good riddance to is Radamel Falcao, as he completes his loan move to Chelsea. Also a striker who was once held in such high esteem amongst the world’s elite, this is a move that could come back to bite United. Or when Jose Mourinho fails to reinvigorate the striker Louis van Gaal can say he told him so. Anyhow, with two strikers on the way out, it’s looking like the Dutchman will be in the market for a new goal threat and he will be praying that he gets it right this time.

Last time out in the Premier League the two strikers leaving Old Trafford with their tails between their legs, only managed 14 goals between them. Wayne Rooney put away a measly 12, partly because Van Gaal didn’t know where to play him when he was trying to fit his other big names into the team. So that’s 26 goals between the three of them. That is a total that Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero managed on his own. Even so, United managed to finish fourth in the league. If they can bring in a world-class striker this season, or play Rooney up front in his rightful position, they could challenge for the title. So what players are on the radar for United?

It seems as though Van Gaal is looking to bolster up his midfield with a couple of big names next season ahead of a title challenge for which they are priced in the region of 5/1 with betfair and other bookmakers. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin have both been linked with a move to Manchester. If United were able to acquire one or both of these it would provide a lot more strength in the middle of the park that they were lacking last season. A lot of the time Rooney had to track back and play in a central position, giving him fewer opportunities on goal. If Van Gaal brings in strong midfield reinforcements it will enable Rooney to enjoy a lot more freedom and maximize his high-scoring potential. Schneiderlin has attracted a lot of interest from big clubs after proving his worth at Southampton, but Manchester United are reportedly keen to sign him and they’ll be hoping to do so before their pre-season tour.

If the midfield gets a reshuffle, it’s going to allow Rooney a lot more freedom to be the fearsome strike force he has been in the past, but he’s still going to need to form some good partnerships with other attacking players. Juan Mata was looking good towards the latter stage of last season, and it seems as though he will be an integral part of Van Gaal’s plans from now on. The future of Angel Di Maria is still a little unclear, although he did show some of his former brilliance during the Copa America. And now United are back in the Champions League they are going to need some players with experience in Europe. A couple of names being thrown about who could help add to that experience are Gonzalo Higuain and Edinson Cavani.

Rumour has it that Cavani doesn’t like playing second fiddle to the brilliant Zlatan Ibrahimovic at PSG, as he is often deployed out wide. He claims he would score a lot more if he was playing in his most comfortable role in the centre. Even so, he managed 31 goals in all competitions last season, which isn’t a bad haul. Van Gaal has supposedly had his eye on Cavani for a while now, and he is certainly a player who could add something new to the squad. With United already having some good attacking threat down the wings, they may be able to offer him his preferred central position as well. This is something that could help persuade him to sign with them should it come down to discussions with the player. The general consensus amongst bookies at the time of writing, though, is that he will be staying put during this transfer window.

Higuain’s future always seems to be shrouded in speculation every time a transfer window rolls around. The odds on him making a move to United are shorter than those on Cavani, but pundits always like to speculate on him moving to Arsenal, with Atletico Madrid’s name being thrown into the hat as well. So he’ll probably just end up staying at Napoli again. If he does move, there is no doubt that Higuain would add some serious fire power to any team and he could be exactly what United are looking for. After a bad miss in the Copa America last week, though (see below), it would be wise to remember that he has a history of bottling it in the big games. So if they do sign him, it may be better to leave him out if they make it to a cup final.

Christian Benteke has stated that he is desperate to move away from Aston Villa, and join a club who are pushing for trophies rather than battling relegation each year. Liverpool are the favourites to sign him at the moment but seem unwilling to activate the massive release clause in his contract. Could United sweep in to snub their Merseyside rivals? Whoever ends up signing Benteke won’t regret it, as his form towards the end of last season proved what a deadly strike force he can be. If he were to join Rooney at United, they could spark a seriously fearsome partnership.

Anyway. It’s all still just speculation. Only time will tell. So go about your everyday business and try to contain your excitement about all the massive things that may or may not happen in this transfer window.