Having endured a goalless 325 minutes across all competitions, Manchester United’s attacking performances have received plenty of criticism over the last few weeks.
Indeed, some blame goal-shy centre-forward Wayne Rooney, others question Louis van Gaal’s safety-first tactics and a few ponder the genuine quality at the Old Trafford gaffer’s disposal.
Clearly, however, something isn’t quite adding up for United in the final third. This is their first run of three consecutive scoreless draws since 2005 – back when Liam Miller and John Spector were called upon during a drab Capital One Cup affair with Exeter City.
Fortunately for LVG, the January window is now much closer than it once was – two months away, to be precise – providing the Dutchman with the opportunity to arrest his misfiring squad via the transfer market.
With that in mind, Football Fancast have conjured up a list of FIVE January signings who’d inject some much needed life into the Red Devils’ attack.
Many were surprised by reports linking Sadio Mane with a move to Manchester United during the summer but the Southampton star’s superlative form since has certainly justified their interest.
Indeed, the Senegal international has claimed three goals and four assists in eleven Premier League outings this term, building upon an impressive ten-goal haul in the league last season – including a three-minute hat-trick against Aston Villa in May.
In addition to his netting prowess and creativity, it’s Mane’s speed that could make him such an inspired signing for the Red Devils, providing the penetrative pace and willingness to run beyond the centre-forward United currently lack in the final third.
Furthermore, at just 23 years of age there’s certainly the potential for Mane to further improve. Well aware, however, Southampton reportedly value the nomadic forward at a whopping £40million.
Another Premier League star whose incredible form is simply impossible to ignore at the moment, Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez has been ripping up defences on a weekly basis this season to record seven goals and five assists in ten appearances.
That leaves the Algerian international second in the Premier League’s goals and assists charts, trumped by team mate Jamie Vardy and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil respectively, whilst he’s top of the dribble rankings with an impressive 3.6 per match.
The 24 year-old’s dribbling ability would be of particular benefit to a United side who, perhaps due to LVG’s tactics, seem reluctant to take on defenders with the ball at feet, whilst his pace offers them some much-needed dynamism on the counter-attack.
Curiously, Mahrez has been linked with an Old Trafford move over the last few days following his brace against West Brom on Saturday. But a plethora of top clubs are reportedly monitoring the skilful winger, not least including Arsenal, PSG and Barcelona.
Rooney revisionists argue LVG’s tactics are to blame for the Manchester United skipper’s lack of goals this season but you wonder whether a more natural goalscorer – such as Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain – would fare better at the tip of the Red Devils’ attack.
After all, the Argentina international is one of the best in the business when it comes to finding the net, boasting a career return of 228 goals in 473 appearances throughout his spells with River Plate, Real Madrid, the Naples outfit and Albiceleste, including a potent ten strikes in 13 outings this season.
He’s a real fox-in-the-box kind of striker and United certainly lack those predatory instincts in front of goal, regardless of whether or not they’re making enough chances at the moment.
Napoli have continually insisted any interested party must activate the 27 year-old’s £678million release clause. But indisputably the best striker in Europe not plying his trade at Champions League level this term, following the Serie A side’s failure to qualify last season, one can already imagine Higuain pushing for a move away in January.
Once dubbed the Lionel Messi of German football and the provider of Die Mannschaft’s winning goal at the 2014 World Cup, Mario Gotze’s talents are unquestionably being wasted at Bayern Munich.
Indeed, despite boasting a respectable 34 goals in 103 appearances for the Bundesliga Champions – including four in eleven appearances this season – the versatile forward often finds himself redundant to Pep Guardiola’s first team plans.
He’s made as many substitute appearances as starts in the Bundesliga this season, three, although has been absent for the majority of the last month through injury.
Capable of playing on either flank, as a No.10 or a false 9, it seems implausible Louis van Gaal wouldn’t be able to find room for the 23 year-old attacker in United’s starting line-up.
His agent kicked up quite the fuss about game-time during the summer and is clearly considering potential exit strategies. January may not be the right time, however; Gotze’s unlikely to return from his thigh injury until December at the earliest.
From one German international to another, Marco Reus seems destined to join one of Europe’s biggest clubs at some point over the next few years.
That’s no disrespect to current employers Borussia Dortmund, but the 26 year-old has amassed an incredible amass 44 goals and 28 assists in 91 Bundesliga appearances since moving to Westfalenstadion in summer 2012 – making him unquestionably one of the most consistently potent attackers in Europe.
The 48-cap international’s defining strengths remain his technical quality, his incredible pace and his versatility, proving equally proficient as an attacking midfielder, a winger or an out-and-out centre-forward during his Dortmund tenure.
Indeed, Reus would slot into virtually any attacking role Louis van Gaal throws at him with relative ease. But after signing a new contract in February to remove his previous £25million release clause, the Black-Yellows could command in excess of £40million for their flagship entity.