Memphis Depay rightly stole all the headlines after Manchester United’s victory over Club Brugge in their Champions League qualifier. The Dutchman produce his most impressive display in a red shirt so far as he bagged a brace in front of his new supporters.
However, despite three wins from three matches there are still problems afoot at Old Trafford, the most worrying being the sluggish form of Wayne Rooney. The United skipper has been elevated to a lone striking role this season, as Louis van Gaal shows faith in his leader to play as a number nine. At present this faith is looking a little misguided.
After another lacklustre showing in midweek, Rooney has failed to score in his previous nine games for his club and hasn’t even managed a single shot on target this term. Against Aston Villa he had just one touch in the opponents’ penalty area, rather concerning for a man who is supposed to be the spearhead of a title charge.
Rooney naturally drops deep, searching for the ball, but with the likes of Juan Mata and Memphis Depay already performing that duty he is in serious danger of becoming a benign presence. It is now clear that Van Gaal must go out and sign a centre forward, even if just to take the burden off the England man and allow him to operate deeper. Here Aaron Cox takes us through five men who could walk into the vacant number nine jersey at the Theatre of Dreams.
The Real Madrid striker is constantly linked to moves away from the Santiago Bernabeu, most notably to Arsenal. United fans would love nothing more than to see Van Gaal splurge on a genuinely world class striker, while also snaring a player that Gunners fans believe could be the missing piece in Arsene Wenger’s jigsaw.
Transfer dealings between the two clubs aren’t exactly rosy after sagas involving Sergio Ramos and David De Gea, but Ed Woodward could be tempted to try and use the goalkeeper in a ploy to bring Benzema to Manchester.
The French international guarantees goals and such is the furore and fanfare surrounding those around him in Madrid, at times he seems to go unnoticed. He would be idolised by the United support and provide a perfect foil to Depay, Rooney and Co.
For too long has Zlatan teased us with his dreams of playing in the English top flight. At the end of July he told media that his next move would ‘surprise’ everyone; turning up at Old Trafford before the deadline would certainly do that.
Ibra is rumoured to be available, as PSG look to Edinson Cavani to be their new number nine. The Swede may well be 33 but he has never really exerted himself too much on the pitch and United could get two years from him without a doubt.
His dominating personality may clash with that of Van Gaal but if the Dutch manager wants a genuine centre forward with a touch of brilliance, there is no one better.
Whenever Premier League clubs dip into the foreign transfer market there is always the worry that a player will take time to settle, the Red Devils have no time for that to be an issue, so they could be tempted to look closer to home.
Harry Kane had a sublime breakthrough season last year and at times seemed one goal away from a knighthood, such was his Midas touch. The inevitable links to other clubs came over the summer and Manchester United were one of those sides.
A total of 21 league goals is not to be sniffed at and he would provide that focal point that Rooney has so far lacked. The two look destined to play together for England on a regular basis, so any move would be a benefit to both club and country. As Spurs fans so often sing, Kane is ‘one of their own’, so whether he would be interested in a move away is very debateable. The seemingly imminent arrival of Saido Berahino at White Hart Lane is meant to support the 22-year-old but when United come calling, not many turn them down.
The French have some real striking talent amongst their ranks at present and this 24-year-old is very much the flavour of the summer. Lacazette has been linked with Liverpool and Chelsea but nothing has come of it so far.
It’s easy to see why he is a player in such high demand. The 24-year-old found the net 27 times in 33 league outings last term, six more than his nearest rivals in Ligue 1.
At just 5ft 9in he isn’t exactly a towering presence but his pace and finishing abilities mean he’s tailor made for the Premier League. It would certainly be a gamble from Van Gaal but it may just be one that is worth the projected £21m fee.
Now, to currently put Remy in the same bracket as the players above would be folly, but what the Frenchman does bring with him is a history of scoring goals in the Premier League. The former QPR man scored 14 times in 26 outings when on loan at Newcastle in 2013/14, earning himself a move to Chelsea, where he has never really been given the chance to shine.
Despite his lack of playing time the 28-year-old has still averaged a goal every three games at Stamford Bridge. He would add pace, something Rooney lacks, and the ability to get in behind defences.
Would Jose Mourinho sell to United? It’s highly unlikely but the fact that no clubs bigger than Crystal Palace and West Ham have been linked with Remy is baffling. He may not be the world class number nine United supporters crave but he would add serious depth to a puddle of a forward line.