Having scored the fewest goals of any side in the Premier League’s top six this season, it’s quite clear where Manchester United‘s biggest problems lie and why they now find themselves seven points away from the division’s summit.
Indeed, the Red Devils may have just scraped a vital 1-0 win over Liverpool with captain Wayne Rooney finding the net, but their squad lacks firepower throughout and Louis van Gaal’s rigid philosophy has slowly but surely drained creativity in the final third.
Fortunately, however, the January transfer window represents a chance for LVG to right a few wrongs – most particularly in regards to his severely undermanned strike force of ‘Wazza Roo’ and summer signing Anthony Martial.
So with that in mind and just over ten days of the winter window remaining, Football FanCast have listed FIVE potential forward acquisitions who could fire the faltering Red Devils back into the Premier League title race.
In terms of potential strike additions with Premier League-proven ability, nobody in the English top flight has bettered Romelu Lukaku’s 15 goals for Everton this season.
That brings the Belgium international’s Premier League total to 57 goals in 131 appearances, spanning his spells with Chelsea, West Brom and the Toffees, which is an absolutely incredible return for a 22-year-old still learning his trade.
There are still notable gaps in the 6 foot 3 striker’s game – particularly the inconsistency of his link-up play. But he’s rapidly emerged as a very complete goalscorer, this season bagging four with his right foot, seven with his left, four with his head and one from outside the box.
Resultantly, however, Lukaku is one of Europe’s most wanted strikers at the moment and the Merseyside outfit reportedly hope to fend off interest by slapping the beastly Belgian with a £65million price tag.
Arjen Robben may not be an out-and-out striker but he can certainly help the Red Devils’ underwhelming goal tally, having made a career out of combining blistering pace, tricky wide play and penalty box theatrics with a consistent supply of goals.
Indeed, the Bayern Munich star has bagged a whopping 113 goals in 208 appearances since moving to the Allianz Arena in summer 2009 and was one of the stand-out stars at the 2014 World Cup – netting thrice under Van Gaal’s direction for the Netherlands,
Would the German giants be willing to surrender one of their biggest names halfway through a title campaign, though? Perhaps not. Then again, Robben is now 31 years of age and into the final 18 months of his Bavaria contract, so a decent bid could well convince them to cash in.
He’d certainly solve United’s lack of dynamism and penetration from wide positions, but Robben’s track record of continuous injury problems is admittedly a big concern.
Edinson Cavani has become one of the biggest talking points in transfer rumour circles over the last week or so, after PSG boss Laurent Blanc not so subtly hinted he’d be happy to let the striker leave for another club.
Despite arriving at Parc de Princes for a monolithic £55million in summer 2013, the Uruguay international has never quite established himself as a world-class centre-forward, evident enough through him being constantly overshadowed by team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
That being said, Cavani boasts one of the most formidable scoring records of any striker in Europe from the last five-and-a-half years. He netted an incredible 104 times in 138 appearances for former employers Napoli and has amassed 69 in 120 – including ten Ligue 1 strikes this season – since moving to the French capital.
In terms of his imposing physicality, the 6-foot striker seems like a good fit for Premier League football and he’d certainly offer United something a little different in the final third.
With PSG already 21 points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table, they can definitely afford to sell this month as well.
Having proved himself equally effective as a winger and a striker throughout his La Liga career, Antoine Griezmann could address a number of problems Manchester United currently face in the final third.
Indeed, the France international served as a talismanic yet industrious wide man at former club Real Sociedad, playing a pivotal role in their rise from the Spanish second tier to the Champions League, but has flourished as a centre-forward since moving to Vicente Calderon in summer 2014.
Operating almost exclusively as a striker – albeit, often in tandem with another forward – the 24-year-old has netted 43 times in 81 appearances for Atletico, including a potent return of 18 in 27 so far this season.
The Mattress Makers will be incredibly reluctant to sell now they’re facing a two-window transfer embargo from FIFA, but that could well convince the versatile forward to push for a move his end – rather than spend the next twelve months in a stagnating side – His contract is known to include an admittedly rather steep €80million release clause.
Gonzalo Higuain was linked on many, many, many occasions with a Manchester United move during the summer and the club will undoubtedly have taken note of his scintillating form since.
Indeed, the Napoli striker has scored the most goals of any player involved in Europe’s five leading top flights this season, netting 20 times in as many Serie A outings, to bring his career return to a formidable 225 goals in 486 appearances.
That includes 121 strikes for former employers Real Madrid and 25 in 52 at international level for Argentina, underlining the 28-year-old’s greatest attribute as a frontman – an ability to consistently find the net.
That may seem simplistic but whilst other strikers on the list will have a more noteworthy effect on Man United’s build-up play, Higuain is a natural goal poacher of the highest order.
The Red Devils could certainly do with one of those at the moment, but Napoli have continually insisted over the last six months that any suitor will have to activate the South American’s €100million release clause.