Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has told reporters that he could be bringing a new striker to Old Trafford during the January transfer window in order to save the Red Devils’ season.
United are lagging nine points adrift of the top of the Premier League in sixth place, and fans are starting to run out of patience with both the boss and his underperforming stars.
Landing a new front man could well inject some much-needed excitement into the club, and Van Gaal admitted that he may do exactly that, as scoring goals has become an issue—via Pete Oliver of Daily Telegraph:
It can be solved with money but also on the training pitch. We are training but scoring goals is a quality. We have that quality but at this moment there is a lack of confidence at the right time or we need to buy another striker. It is always like that. Of course, we are looking always for solutions in the team. But we still have a good team and we can still score goals. I am convinced of that. But we also need a little bit of luck.
Van Gaal let Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez leave Old Trafford last summer, and the latter's lethal performances with Bayer Leverkusen have left fans questioning why he was allowed to go.
However, the Dutch manager has defended his decision and said he'd have had too many strikers on the sidelines if they didn't depart:
We could have kept all the strikers but then there would have been a lot of strikers in the stand. They are not happy then. They want to go away. It is the story of Hernandez for example. He wants to play. I can imagine that he can't always play in this world. There are now players in my selection who want to play. They cannot play because I choose another player. That is always like that. Too many strikers of high quality for the same position is too much pressure but now I don't have the chance to change.
So, who can Van Gaal bring in to bridge the gap? Well, one “solution” that has been hitting headlines of late is the capture of Lazio’s versatile attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson.
The Brazilian can seamlessly switch to a more advanced role, and that much has reportedly endeared Van Gaal to him, as journalist Graeme Bailey stated that a deal is close:
Graeme Bailey @GraemeBailey
Possibly the biggest deal of the transfer window, Felipe Anderson to Manchester United, could be one of the first confirmed. Deal close.2016-1-1 10:52:14
One player is unlikely to turn United’s season around, but Anderson has the kind of quality to win matches in the blink of an eye—as he’s proved in Serie A already this term.
Yet the Red Devils could dip into the unknown to solve their striker conundrum, as they’ve also been linked with highly rated teenage forward Goncalo Guedes.
That’s according to Shoot (via Jamie Sanderson of Metro) which noted that the Benfica starlet has been watched by Manchester United scouts ahead of a January move. Here’s what they went to Portugal to see:
Guedes has been dubbed the new Cristiano Ronaldo, and while that term has been used loosely down the years, the 19-year-old does look the real deal.
He has pace, skill and power in abundance, plus a swagger that defies his tender years. It’s playing under the right coach and in the right surroundings that will see the Portuguese develop to his full potential.
Van Gaal will be hoping that Guedes sees Old Trafford as the logical next step in his career, although leaving Benfica after only a few seasons in the first team may not appeal.
Anderson and Guedes are undoubtedly talented players who would add something that’s been missing from United’s setup all season: excitement.