There have been a few names linked to United, in the wake of a season where their strikers have seriously underperformed, but the latest name might just make the most sense.
Falcao has 4 in 13; Van Persie has 10 in 24 and Rooney has 12 in 29. On the whole not terrible stats but not the kind of strike rates you would expect from three world class strikers at a top Premier League club. The 26 goals between them would be expected from any one of these three individually.
With Falcao destined to find his fortune elsewhere and Van Persie rumoured to be moving on at the end of the season that leaves just Rooney as the main striker for United next season. At 29 years of age there’s no need to be looking to replace Rooney just yet, especially as he’s showing no signs of slowing just yet. But it is time to start looking for the striker who could be take over the bulk of the work in a couple of seasons.
The likes of Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani have persistently been linked with a move to Old Trafford but surely they are not the answer. Both would command sizeable fees leading them to either be shoehorned in out of position or to spend most games on the bench waiting for 20 minutes game time. Neither player would be happy with that and, at their age and level nor should they, but Rooney as club captain should always be first choice as striker and his work rate means he will lead the line more often than not.
What United need is a young striker who can grab goals, is powerful (as Rooney is) and can be moulded into a first class striker of United’s calibre. In my opinion that man is Christian Benteke.
10 goals in 24 games is the return for a season that has been described as ‘slow’ for Benteke on many occasions (last season he finished on 10 in 26). Injury has hampered him at various points in the last two seasons but a run of form under Tim Sherwood has brought him back up to speed.
A look at his and Rooney’s respective strike rates shows that the Belgian forward is not far off of Rooney’s numbers:
At 24 Benteke still has his best years ahead of him and a move to United would certainly represent a move up for him in his career and offer the chance of European football. He chose not to move on from Villa once before but I don’t think he would let the opportunity pass him by twice.
He is a proven goalscorer in the league, who can get goals against anyone from Leicester up to Chelsea. His lack of European experience is something that can be improved (and he will have time to improve), especially against some of the smaller teams in the group stages, and with the like of Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera providing the linkup play his output can only get better. His main drawback is that his last couple of seasons have been marred but injury and twice those have been due to his Achilles tendon, but if he is to be used sparingly and allowed to build himself up that might not be such a problem.
At this stage of rebuilding, United don’t need another ‘Galactico’ to sell shirts and warm benches, they need a proven youngster who is capable of stepping up on big occasions and can gradually be integrated into a first team role, and Benteke could be just the one to do that.