Fourth-placed Manchester United are enjoying a decent if unspectacular start to the season, finding themselves just two points behind Premier League table-toppers Manchester City.
If there’s one major concern from their first twelve games, however, it’s a worrying lack of firepower. United have scored the fewest goals, 17, of any side in the Premier League’s top seven and their new-look strike force of Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial have netted just five times between them.
But the January transfer window is now less than two months away, giving Louis van Gaal the chance to bolster his forward options for the second half of the season.
With that in mind, we at Football Fancast have been running the rule over a series of strikers the Red Devils could realistically attain in the new year – focusing more on youthful front-men in light of Louis van Gaal’s preference towards young players.
So without further ado, here’s our list of FIVE youthful strikers United should target in January.
Throughout the history of the Premier League, few strikers have found such consistency as Romelu Lukaku by the age of 22.
Indeed, the Belgium international has reached double figures in all three of his Premier League campaigns thus far and looks set to repeat the feat again this year, having already amassed seven goals in twelve appearances. That brings Lukaku’s total return in the top flight to 49 goals in 124 outings.
The prodigious centre-forward is by no means the finished article, with his limited technique and occasionally lackadaisical attitude often being the subject of much scrutiny.
But the Everton striker is a physical phenomenon, boasting speed, strength and leap in equal measure, and the 6 foot 3 battering ram can border upon unplayable when enjoying top form – something United discovered when he netted a perfect hat-trick past them on the final day of the 2012/13 season whilst on loan at West Brom.
Agent Mino Raiola has been talking up the seemingly inevitable move to a big club recently, suggesting there is already an agreement in place to let Lukaku leave if one of Europe’s leading institutions makes an acceptable offer.
Manchester United certainly fall into that remit but Everton will expect a premium if they’re to sell to another Premier League side.
Saido Berahino came close to leaving West Bromwich Albion during the summer, leading to his infamous Twitter fiasco with chairman Jeremy Peace, and has once again been linked with a move away from the Hawthorns this week as he continues to stall on a contract extension.
One of English football’s most exciting strike prospects, the 22-year-old burst onto the scene with a thunderous strike at Old Trafford in 2013 and has since notched up 22 goals in the top flight – despite representing a Baggies side stuck in a cycle of relegation battles.
Louis van Gaal wants more speed in United’s attack and that’s what the Burundi-born front-man predominantly offers, alongside his prodigious firepower.
Berahino, who is also England’s second all-time leading goal scorer at U21 level, seems ready to test himself at a bigger club and is certainly an ambitious character.
However, West Brom proved in the summer that they’re only willing to sell for a fee in the £20million to £30million bracket, having rejected a series of bids from Tottenham Hotspur.
Mauri Icardi’s 22-goal haul saw him claim top scorer status in Serie A last season and earn speculative links to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United during the summer transfer window.
But the Inter Milan striker is struggling with the ever-difficult follow-up season and has netted just three times across all competitions so far this year, resulting in Roberto Mancini dropping him for a vital title clash with Roma two weekends ago.
Despite signing a four-year contract and being awarded Nerazzurri’s armband during the summer, the 22-year-old skipper already has one eye on leaving the San Siro according to some sources, with a preference to ply his trade in either England or Spain.
Rated at around £25million, the Argentina international seems like a risk worth taking. Suitors will certainly be concerned with his slow start to the season, however.
Rated as one of Spanish football’s most exciting youngsters, having claimed the European Championship twice with La Roja at U19 level, half of Europe has one eye on Valencia’s Paco Alcacer at the moment.
The 22-year-old hasn’t reached meteoric heights just yet – when compared to Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, for example – but he’s developing well, with 14 goals across all competitions for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns, alongside five from ten La Liga outings this term.
Having also contributed five goals to Spain’s European Championship campaign, the 5 foot 9 striker is quickly emerging as a key player for both club and country.
What stands out most about Alcacer is that he boasts no defining trait. Rather, he’s competent if unspectacular in most departments whilst possessing a natural knack for scoring goals.
Valencia will be more than aware that the 5 foot 9 striker’s value could skyrocket at Euro 2016, however, so United will have to cough up a large fee to convince them to sell six months early.
The curious case of Antoine Griezmann, the France international who earned a move to Atletico Madrid in summer 2014 for his talismanic performances as Real Sociedad’s star winger but has since emerged as one of the most potent front men in Europe.
Indeed, Griezmann played an intrinsic role in the Anoeta’s outfit rise from the Spanish second tier to the Champions League but now finds himself leading Atletico’s forward line, a change in position that has seen him claim 32 goals in 69 appearances since the start of last season.
Of course, that means the 24-year-old offers Manchester United more than simply added firepower in the final third. His versatility could answer another problem Louis van Gaal currently faces – the Red Devils’ lack of pace and penetration out wide.
Griezmann offers speed in abundance, but he’s also a phenomenally hard worker, which is why so many have tipped him to be a huge hit in the Premier League. Atletico tied th 5 foot 9 forward during the summer, but his £56million release clause is keeping Europe’s top clubs interested.