Louis van Gaal, the scourge of Manchester United accountants, took another sizeable chunk out of the Old Trafford treasury yesterday in completing the signings of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin.
After reupholstering his midfield at an outlay believed to be around £35m, the flush Dutchman will turn his attention to broadening his foot spa-shallow striker pool.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Bayern Munich marksman Robert Lewandowski sits at the top of his shortlist, though the broadsheet scribblers acknowledge the unlikelihood of the Bavarian behemoths, Schweinsteiger’s former employers, selling a second first-team member to the Red Devils in the same summer.
Such a standpoint from the Bundesliga kingpins is sure to vex Van Gaal, but Bayern’s no-go stance regarding the sale of the Polish goal machine is good news for Man Utd in the long term, judging by their recent fortune when buying blockbuster strikers anyway.
Contracted to Die Roten for another four years, Lewandowski would cost an amount likely to rival the exorbitant fee United forked out for Angel Di Maria 12 months ago.
For a striker who has crossed the 25-goal threshold in each of the previous four seasons, this calibre of fee seems more than fair, yet it doesn’t guarantee success, as the travails of Radamel Falcao from the previous season will attest.
The Colombian had scored regularly in Portugal, Spain and France before moving to the Old Trafford outfit on loan for a year.
It cost the club a reported £6m on top of paying his rumoured £220,000-a-week wages, with a price to sign him permanently for £56m brokered following the conclusion of the temporary deal.
Four Premier League goals from the previously prolific Colombian led Van Gaal to deduce the move wasn’t such a good idea after all and the similarities between Falcao and Lewandowski should point him towards the same realisation here.
Both are orthodox ‘number 9s’, preferring to spearhead an attack by themselves with service provided from the left, right and centre.
As last season confirmed, United can’t accommodate such players as long as they want Wayne Rooney as the focal point of the team.
This was even the case with Robin van Persie to a certain extent, whose ability to flourish in a two-man attack quickly diminished after his first season at the club, with his goal tally falling from 26 to 12 to ten over his three-year United stay.
In the England international, they have a world-class line leader who is at his most dangerous in the number nine role.
He flourished in this guise during the 2009/10 and 2011/12 campaigns, which both saw him yield 34 goals across all competitions, his personal best seasonal returns.
Instead of buying a world-class asset to partner Rooney, signing a player more likely to provide for him, whether they’re a target man or more creative type, would be a logical, cheaper course of action.