According to the tabloids, Manchester United are set for quite the striker switcheroo this summer.
The ageing Robin van Persie will be sold to either Inter Milan or Juventus, according to The Daily Mail, and PSG front-man Edinson Cavani has been lined up as his replacement in the Old Trafford front-line, according to The Express.
The news follows reports of an apparent bust-up with manager Laurent Blanc after the Uruguay international was subbed off after an hour against Marseille two weekends ago.
But with the French champions allegedly intent on recouping their full £55million investment in the former Napoli star, made in summer 2013, it’s hardly a deal that strikes good value for money from United’s perspective.
With that in mind and being the ever-helpful bunch we are at Football Fancast, we’ve listed FIVE cheaper alternatives to the PSG star.
Would the Red Devils be better off with one of these FIVE leading their line next season?
Not a striker particularly similar in style to Edinson Cavani but certainly one capable of providing a similar amount of goals, Gonzalo Higuain ended his Real Madrid career with 122 goals in 264 appearances, boasts a return of 23 in 46 for the Argentina national team and has netted 46 times over the last two campaigns for Napoli.
He’s a more diminutive forward than Cavani, measuring in at just 6 foot, but offers an abundance of creativity, having claimed 13 assists in his 61 Serie A appearances whilst averaging just over one created chance per match.
And Higuain looks almost certain to move on this summer, according to The Metro, unless Napoli can close a seven point gap on Roma with just eight games to go to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
However, The Metro also claim Arsenal are already in talks to sign the former River Plate man this summer – so United will have to act quickly.
Signing home-grown talent will be high on the agenda of every major Premier League club this summer, following news FA Chairman Greg Dyke wishes to expand the HG quota from eight to twelve players per squad from the 2016/17 campaign onwards, and few strike better value for money than Burnley forward Danny Ings.
The 22-year-old’s influence has petered out somewhat in recent weeks but nine goals and four assists in 29 Premier League appearances is by no means a poor return for an inaugural Premier League campaign – building upon the 21-goal haul that fired Burnley to the top flight last season.
In addition to the England U21’s goals, it’s his intelligence, movement and creativity that stand out, suggesting he’s got the ingredients to ply his trade at a much higher level.
Admittedly, Turf Moor to Old Trafford is a rather seismic step. But available for a nominal compensation fee this summer upon the expiration of his Burnley contract, the former Bournemouth youngster seems well worth the punt.
Another budding youngster on the verge of blossoming into a top striking talent, Paulo Dybala’s 13 goals and nine assists for Palermo this season have seen him emerge as one of the most sought-after forwards in Europe, with regular links to the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Juventus.
Due to his exceptional dribbling ability, deft finishing and tenacity, the 21-year-old has drawn comparisons with three South American strikers; Man City’s Sergio Aguero, Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
High praise indeed, but it’s difficult not to overhype a 21 year-old ripping apart Serie A defences on a weekly basis.
The good news for the Red Devils is that Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has confirmed Dybala will likely be sold this summer – as reported by ESPN. The bad news, however, is Zamparini’s valuation of €40million, accompanied by the claim PSG, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea all want to sign the prodigious front-man.
Gary Neville believes Manchester United must insist upon a Real Madrid player this summer if they’re forced to surrender star goalkeeper David De Gea to the European Champions – at which point, I turn your attentions to Karim Benzema.
The France international often finds himself overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo and that’s reflected in his goal tally, having claimed a somewhat unspectacular 133 goals in 278 appearances since moving to the Bernabeu in 2009.
But the 27-year-old’s blend of height, power and technique, measuring in at 6 foot 2, would make him a natural fit for the Premier League and particularly United’s direct style of play under Louis van Gaal. Of all the strikers on this list, he’s probably the most comparable to Edinson Cavani.
Whether Los Blancos would be prepared to part with Benzema remains to be seen. He’s proved a perfect counterweight to Ronaldo in recent seasons and speculation suggests they’re intent on strengthening – not weakening – their forward cast this summer.
But a top-class talent still with a point to prove, an Old Trafford switch could be of interest to the former Lyon man.
Robert Lewandowski only signed for Bayern Munich last summer – that infamous bosman move from divisional rivals Borussia Dortmund – but it’s hardly proved to be a match made in heaven, despite a return of 20 goals in 39 appearances for the Bundesliga champions.
Indeed, the Poland international is your classic No.9 of the Alan Shearer or Didier Drogba mould, but he’s utilised more as a poacher by the Bavarians – and, on occasion, even found himself fielded on the left wing.
There’s no questioning the 26-year-old’s talent, however; few strikers throughout the history of the sport have scored four goals in a single game against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, bringing Lewandowski’s career total to 185 goals in 340 appearances.
And having moved to the Allianz Arena on a free transfer, Pep Guardiola’s side may be willing to part with the 6 foot striker for significantly cheaper than some might expect. Reports from over the weekend, for example, claim United are considering a bid around the £35million mark.