Manchester United are wrapping up a well played campaign and thoughts are turning to next season, which is expected to see the club make a realistic bid for the Premier League title.
Manager Louis van Gaal has faced numerous challenges as he has tried to rebuild a squad lacking in confidence and direction following their shocking decline under David Moyes last season.
The Dutch manager initially struggled in all areas of the pitch due to mounting injuries early on in the season, though as players returned a formidable squad started taking shape and now the once mocked club happily sit in third.
United will, as usual, be doing some business in the upcoming transfer window, with the acquisition of a prolific forward top of their list.
Captain Wayne Rooney has been deployed somewhat successfully as United’s central striker but with a goal tally of only 12, the England international hasn’t been able to produce at the same levels as, say, Diego Costa or Sergio Aguero. Rooney needs back-up, a strike partner to play off of and currently United are critically lacking in this area.
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Sensing this void United signed once prolific striker Radamel Falcao from AS Monaco, but the Colombian has failed to take his chances – scoring only four goals this season – and will surely be returned to his parent club this summer.
Likewise, Robin van Persie who has struggled for form due to injuries and the toils of ageing has not proved up to the task anymore and will probably be moved on in the summer.
So who can the Red Devils turn to?
After a well-timed return to form, Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke is the latest forward to be associated with a move to Old Trafford. But I’m not convinced that he is the right type of player to fire United to next season’s title. The Belgian has not had the best eight months for the Villains and just because he is starting to turn things around now, it shouldn’t necessarily make him a genuine target for Van Gaal.
Benteke would make a good second choice striker for United or rather he should stay at a club of Villa’s level where he’ll be their main star. United need an established player in the vein of a Luis Suarez or Cristiano Ronaldo, not someone who still has something to prove.
PSV Eindhoven’s Memphis Depay is another name the club are reported to be interested in and this acquisition would make perfect sense. Although not a household name in England, the Netherlands international has been explosive in his homeland.
With three games still to go, Depay’s PSV have just won the Dutch Eredivisie and it is his 20 goals that have made this feat possible. The 21-year-old also worked with Van Gaal at last year’s World Cup and so a move to the red part of Manchester wouldn’t be as daunting, and this fact surely adds some credibility to the rumour.
Benteke on the other hand should stick with Villa where he is guaranteed regular starts and the devotion of thankful supporters. And whether the Birmingham based club manage to avoid the drop or not, he needs a really strong season next year before a top club like United should even consider signing him.