Five centre-forwards Manchester United must target in January

Having now endured five scoreless draws in their last nine games across all competitions, clearly something is amiss with Manchester United’s attack.

Indeed, the Red Devils have scored the fewest goals of any club in the Premier League’s top six, 20, and averaged just 11.1 shots per match, ranking them 15th throughout the division.

After failing to find the net against West Ham United on Saturday, supporters are growing impatient with United’s abundant lack of goal threat – a far cry from the ever-exciting football played under the great Sir Alex Ferguson.

There are a number of causes behind the club’s underwhelming goal tally, not least including Louis van Gaal’s conservative tactics.

But nonetheless, an in-form striker tends to have a positive effect on any team’s efforts going forward, regardless of style of play, which is where the Red Devils find themselves particularly lacking. Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial have scored just five Premier League goals between them this term.

So with that in mind, a Premier League title on the line and the January transfer window just around the corner, here are FIVE strikers United must target when the transfer market reopens next month – even if it costs an arm and a leg to sign them.

ROMELU LUKAKU


Only Leicester City’s record-breaking extraordinaire Jamie Vardy has scored more Premier League goals than Romelu Lukaku this season, who boasts 10 goals and four assists in 14 outings for Everton.

Certain aspects of the Belgium international’s game – particularly his link up play – still require improvement, but he’s shaping up to be a very complete centre-forward with power, pace, leap and netting prowess in equal measure.

He’d give the Red Devils a much-needed physical presence in the final third and seems like one of the safest long-term investments around at the minute, having already notched up 52 Premier League goals at the age of 22.

Resultantly, however, and having originally purchased him from Chelsea at a whopping £28million, it could take a £40million-£50million fee to convince the Toffees to sell midseason.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG


No player in Europe’s five leading top flights has scored more league goals than Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this season, who has amassed a whopping 17 in just 15 Bundesliga outings.

That brings the 26-year-old’s Black-Yellows total to 66 goals in 117 games and there has been a consistent improvement in his tallies since arriving from St. Etienne in summer 2013.

More than just firepower, however, it’s the Gabon international’s penetrative pace that could prove so vital to a United attack calling out for a striker who can stretch defences. Indeed, Aubameyang is notorious for his relentless speed and all-round athleticism, with an agile 6 foot 1 frame.

Dortmund’s ‘pain threshold’ is reportedly £42million, but the German giants would expect a premium on top if they’re to sell their leading goalscorer halfway through the campaign.

GONZALO HIGUAIN


Gonzalo Higuain has continually insisted he’s happy at Napoli, but there will inevitably be January interest in one of Europe’s most established goalscorers who isn’t cup-tied in the Champions League.

Indeed, the Argentina international boasts a career return of 232 goals in 477 appearances from his spells with River Plate, Real Madrid, the Naples outfit and Albiceleste, including a division-best haul of 14 Serie A strikes this season.

Higuain isn’t the quickest, the strongest or the most powerful, but his natural poacher’s instincts represent something the Red Devils abundantly lack in the final third at the moment.

Similarly, the 27-year-old is the most experienced suggestion on this list and is probably the likeliest to hit the ground running at Old Trafford. His release clause, however, stands at a whopping £67million and Napoli will be reluctant to sell for less.

MICHY BATSHUAYI


Belgium internationals have taken the Premier League by storm over the last five years and many are tipping Michy Batshuayi to have a similar effect should he move to the English top flight.

The 22-year-old simply hasn’t looked back since making his debut for Standard Liege in 2011. He netted 39 times in 97 appearances for the Belgian outfit, paving the way for a move to Stade Velodrome in summer 2014, and now boasts 19 in 42 Ligue 1 outings for Marseille.

That includes ten strikes and five assists this season, leaving Batshuayi third in the French division’s scoring charts behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Benjamin Moukandjo.

Marseille president Vincente Labrune has publicly valued the 5 foot 11 striker at £35million, however, and many will view that as a shot in the dark on United’s part considering his lack of experience.

JAMIE VARDY


Already 28 years of age and apparently valued at a whopping £30million, Jamie Vardy isn’t exactly a cost-effective investment.

But few players in Europe are enjoying better form than the record-breaking England international right now and if his goals lead the Red Devils to their first Premier League title of the post-Ferguson era, that £30million will be widely viewed as money well spent.

Furthermore, the former non-leaguer embodies what United need in the final third – relentless energy, threat on the counter-attack and perhaps more simply, the sheer willingness to take the game to the opposition.

Despite his incredible achievement and Leicester City sitting top of the Premier League table, Vardy’s industriousness has never waned and it’s unlikely to upon moving to Old Trafford – especially with Euro 2016 just around the corner.

Still, however, it’s a monumental risk and United are unlikely to get much back for the 5 foot 10 striker if he can’t repeat his Leicester City form.