Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal’s admission that a new striker is ‘in the process’ of being signed has signalled the sort of rumour flourish you’d expect, with three superstars in particular added to the mooted Old Trafford mix ahead of next season.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Old Trafford return has been longed for since the moment the Portuguese phenomenon left six years ago, but after a brief flurry of speculation in recent days, thoughts turned to his Real Madrid colleague Gareth Bale.
The Daily Star suggested United were readying a world record £95m bid for the Welsh flyer, who endured a tricky second season at the Bernabeu last term, having helped Los Blancos to Copa del Rey and Champions League glory during his first campaign in Spain.
Even more recently, the likes of talkSPORT, Squawka.com and the Daily Telegraph have claimed a €100m move for Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller is in the pipeline, while the Daily Mirror believes United are in for the World Cup-winning German, but for much less money.
None of these stories make much sense in the context of Van Gaal’s Red Devils rebuild.
The 66-year-old has already stated that captain Wayne Rooney will be given the opportunity to make the sole centre-forward spot in the XI his own, and Dutch wide-forward Memphis Depay, who topped the Eredivisie scoring charts last season, has been brought in for £31m.
Having lost strikers Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao from last season’s squad, it’s clear United need a new body up front, especially considering Javier Hernandez doesn’t suit Van Gaal’s strategy, while youngster James Wilson has shown little to suggest he’s about to catch fire in front of goal.
However, Falcao only made Van Gaal’s XI 14 times in the Premier League, while Van Persie’s 25 starts will be negated by Rooney moving further forward; according to WhoScored, the England skipper featured in central midfield on as many occasions as he played up front last term (14 each).
Taking all that into account, United are unlikely to sign a player who becomes the main man as soon as he arrives, as Ronaldo, Bale and Muller certainly would.
It seems they won’t be welcoming Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic to the north west after Newcastle announced a deal with Anderlecht, but having been linked with a £13m move for the 20-year-old striker, that seems to be the pond Van Gaal is fishing in.