Three forwards Man United could target in the January transfer window
Kieran Beckles takes a look at three forwards Manchester United could target in the January transfer window
If Louis van Gaal is looking for an affordable solution to Manchester United’s lack of Premier League goals, Sadio Mane would be a ready-made option. Only Stoke City, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion have averaged less shots per game than the 20-time English champions this season. This statistic more than any other highlights the lack of creativity in the United side. Only Graziano Pelle has more attempts per game than Mane in the Southampton side, and the Senegal has scored three times and has made five goals for his team-mates in an impressive campaign so far. The 23-year-old forward was linked with a move to Old Trafford in the summer transfer window, and although a transfer failed to materialise, Van Gaal could be tempted to rekindle United’s interest. Mane has already adapted to the Premier League and has a proven goal-scoring record with the Saints. He isn’t cup tied, either, should United reach the Champions League knockout stage.
The only issue with Van Gaal targeting Mane is the Southampton striker isn’t the world-class signing that the Red Devils supporters so crave. Whilst the 64-year-old Dutchman isn’t one to pander to the demands of the supporters (let’s remember he told his players to ignore their fans’s chants of ‘attack, attack’ earlier this season) and Gary Neville, Wayne Rooney’s decline leaves United short on star quality. Karim Benzema is dealing with off pitch issues, Harry Kane will be over priced if Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy decides to open negotiations, and it seems unlike Robert Lewandowski or Thomas Muller won’t leave Bayern Munich. Who is a realistic target that could be bracketed as top-class? Well, long-term Liverpool target Marcos Reus would be an excellent option given Borussia Dortmund’s absence from the Champions League. The 26-year-old is one of Europe’s most-coveted forwards but as of yet, Reus has remained put at Dortmund. Could United test BVB’s resolve? The Germany international would have an instant impact but is young enough that he would provide the Red Devils with longevity. It would also give disillusioned United players and supporters a huge lift in one of the most open title races since the Premier League’s inception.
The Inter Milan striker would be a wildcard option for Van Gaal. The Argentina international has been linked with Premier League trio Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool over the past 12 months. Roberto Mancini has used the South American sparingly this season. The former Manchester City manager controversially dropped the forward for October’s 1-0 win against title rivals Roma despite the forward scoring the winner for Inter at Bolgona a week earlier. The Red Devils could capitalise on strained relations between the manager and the forward. Like Mane and Reus, Inter’s absence from the Champions League means the 22-year-old won’t be cup tied should the Red Devils get the required result in Wolfsburg and seal their place in the last 16. Icardi has scored four times in 12 Serie A games this season, taking his tally to 35 goals in 70 top-flight games for Sampdoria and Inter. Like Reus, United would probably have to cough up a significant transfer fee after Icardi signed a four-year deal earlier in May. Considering Reus’s superior experience, if United do roll the dice on a big-money January signing, the German may be a more reliable option.