Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has addressed the need of strengthening the squad in the January transfer window.
The Red Devils are only two points behind league leaders Manchester City and are expected to be in the Premier League title race till the very end.
One of the highlighting features of United’s campaign so far has been their marked improvement in defence. At this point last season United had already conceded 15 goals in the league. This season, it has been a different scenario. They hold an impressive defensive record of all the top four teams, conceding only one goal at home so far, and eight overall in the league.
It’s on the other end of the pitch where they have struggled. In fact, any improvement in the attacking department has been marginal, if at all. United have scored 18 goals in the league after 12 games, just one more than their goal tally last season at this stage.
Understandably, the fans have grown frustrated with the style of football being implemented under the Dutchman. The possession-based football hardly appeals to the fans as United are lacking the cutting edge upfront to unlock the opposition defence.
Skipper Wayne Rooney has been going through a barren spell and has managed two league goals only, while new signing Memphis Depay hasn’t hit the ground running yet and may need more time to make a real impact at Old Trafford.
Put simply, it’s the forward line that needs bolstering. Here we take a look at three players Manchester United must target in the January transfer window:
Very few had predicted Leicester to avoid relegation at the start of the season. Yes, relegation. You read that right. 9 out of 11 Guardian writers had predicted Leicester to go down this season. And here they are, the Foxes are challenging for the Premier League title. Along with their manager, Claudio Ranieri, the credit behind their success goes to two players – Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez – both are enjoying a phenomenal campaign in 2015-16.
The 26-year-old Algerian attacking midfielder has scored seven goals this season, with another five assists to his name. With an average of 3.1 shots per game, it’s evident he is not shy of taking shots on goal. He is a fantastic dribbler (3.5 dribbles per game) and has a keen eye for key passes, registering 2.2 key passes per game, more than any United players.
He has been heavily linked with a move to United, with reports from UK press suggesting United scouts have watched him several times this season.
Mahrez’s agent has denied reports of holding talks with United, stating the player is happy to continue with Leicester. However, The Foxes would be powerless to prevent Mahrez from leaving if United come up with a big money offer for him in January.
United reportedly made a late move for Mane during the summer transfer window, but the deal didn’t materialise.
The 23-year-old forward is physically strong, likes to dribble, and has improved on finishing. He has scored 3 goals already and has further four assists to his name.
The best thing about Mane is the amount of defensive shifts he puts in every single game. He is a good reader of the game and is not shy of making tackles (1.5) when necessary.
Anderson was one of the breakout stars of last season’s Serie A campaign, where he scored 10 league goals and managed seven assists in just 23 appearances.
After a shaky start to his career with Lazio in 2013, he has quickly become one of the most exciting players to watch in Europe.
The Brazilian mainly operates as a winger and loves to drift inside and take shot on goal or create openings for other players. He is extremely fast and would inject pace into the United forward line. However, any deal for him is highly unlikely. Lazio aren’t willing to sell, and in case they agree to do so, United will have to dish out a transfer fee in the north of €40-50m for his services.
Newcastle United’s Ayoze Perez could represent a cheaper alternative. The Spaniard would welcome a move to Old Trafford and the Magpies could be persuaded to sell if a lucrative offer is presented on the table.
Stats courtesy: Whoscored.com