Manchester United and their fans head into the opening game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur quietly confident that their new look team can mount a serious challenge at the league summit.
Boasting the exciting young talent of Memphis Depay and the shrewd signing of Germany World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, United fans can be forgiven for thinking that their team will dominate and outscore the opposition.
However, there is one small problem: as of right now Louis van Gaal only has three recognised strikers in captain Wayne Rooney, the still unproven James Wilson and returning Javier Hernández.
The general consensus is that the club must sign another recognised striker, yet United appear to be ignoring these calls.
Van Gaal experimented with Belgian youngster Januzaj in the number 10 position against Barcelona and heaped praise on the academy graduate. As much as Januzaj professes his desire to lead the line, considering his lack of experience in both age and that position, it will be near impossible for him to displace Rooney from the central role. Another season out wide beckons.
Potential problems with Pedro
Whilst most fans salivate at the idea of multiple Champions League and La Liga winning Pedro joining their ranks there are still problems with this idea.
First off, Pedro is not overly young, at 28 he brings experience but with his peak potentially behind him he might not bring the dynamic, clinical and creative attributes that Van Gaal is craving. His lack of game time in the last year since the arrival of Luis Suárez means that he may also be lacking in match fitness and conditioning.
He has proven what he can bring though, a stella season in 2010/11, when Barcelona beat United for a second time in two seasons to clinch their fourth Champions League title, he scored 22 from 53 in all competitions including a special strike in that European final.
He could, at his very best, be that 20 goal a season striker Louis van Gaal is desperate for.
However, with the manager seemingly opting for a 4-3-3 and Rooney as his captain and guaranteed starting striker Pedro, like Januzaj, may be shunted out wide or onto the bench. Surely there must be a better way to spend £22 million.
Bale would be a top signing
There are rumours swirling regarding a bid for Bale again although it's highly improbable, his age and level of talent would definitely be a huge asset to United trying to regain the Premier League crown.
His speed and creativity on the wing or his finishing through the middle are equally as impressive meaning that he could provide United with more goals and assists than anyone out there. However, this move is extremely unlikely given Florentino Pérez’s and seemingly Benitez’s favouritism towards the Welshman.
As would Thomas Müller...
Various publications have repeatedly linked Thomas Müller’s name and with age on his side but all the experience of a 30-something striker, Müller would bring goals galore as well as a real striking know-how. He also happens to be a true Bavarian, Bayern through and through and won’t be leaving unless United stump up almost £60 million.
Besides Pedro there aren’t any strikers with a proven track record on the market currently, nor are there any hot prospects that United could lure away as back up to Rooney. Van Gaal has most probably failed again to strengthen in the most needed position for the second season running.
Between them United’s two striking understudies played 17 (Wilson) and 33 (Hernández) times last season and contributed only 11 goals combined. These figures suggest that may not quite be up to Manchester United’s lofty standards.
Young James Wilson still has time on his side but remaining at the club as a third striker may stunt his development, a loan move seems the smartest move. As for Hernández, Van Gaal is going to offer him chances but if he doesn’t hit the ground running he could be shipped out in January.
Another top signing is required
With what was a successful summer threatening to derail with the imminent departures of Di María and De Gea, the Old Trafford outfit desperately require sometime to instil confidence and bring the creativity and forward thinking threat of great United attackers of the past.
Their Premier League rivals all boast full attacks who can all contribute goals, Chelsea have Hazard, Costa and Falcao. Liverpool have brought in Ings, Benteke and have Sturridge returning shortly. Whilst City have the brilliant Aguero, ex-Liverpool man Sterling and Wilfried Bony. Van Gaal himself has stated how this shows United are behind in terms of their attacking threat yet he has still failed to address the problem.
The Red Devils look thin on the ground regarding numbers up front, with the new Adidas deal starting yesterday however they have an infinite amount of cash at their disposal, and yet they still haven’t signed a star striker. They can’t rely purely on a single striker, even if their formation only requires one.
Should their main man Rooney falter or fall injured, it could prove to be a frustrating season in front of goal for the men in red.