Radamel Falcao was a shock but exciting signing for Manchester United from Monaco. Only just back from a ligament injury that had kept him out for the best part of 2014, a loan deal was agreed to cover United in case ‘El Tigre’ didn’t return as the same predator he was before his knee trauma.
Past midway in the season, Falcao has only managed three goals in 11 games, being plagued by injuries and relative lack of game time. With a £43m clause to buy the Colombian at the end of the season, questions have been raised over whether he will be at Old Trafford next term. If he is sent back to Ligue 1, who could United consider as alternative striker targets?
Radamel Falcao’s Columbian counterpart has been playing for Porto for three years and in that time has cemented his position as one of the most consistent and lethal strikers in European football. At 28, just like Falcao, Martinez is at his peak footballing ability and would be signed with the expectation of making an instant impression on the Premier League, but anyone who has watched him will know that shouldn’t be a big problem.
With the Portuguese club he has hit 78 goals in 113 games, albeit in a weaker league, but it’s a record that is extremely admirable. Pundits and fans have said for a while that Jackson deserves a move to a bigger club, and if he keeps adding to his atlly of 18 for this season already, United may well be that club.
Both United and Benzema have made it clear that the Frenchman was close to a move to Old Trafford before he chose Real Madrid in 2009 and the Reds have held an interest ever since. Since his move from Lyon to the Spanish giants, Benzema has played 261 and scored 125 over the course of six seasons, becoming a key figure in the ‘Galacticos’ era along with ex-Red Cristiano Ronaldo. As well as being excellent with his hold up play, Benzema’s pace and direct nature would add a dynamism up front that United have lacked much too frequently this season. Already a key part of Carlo Ancelotti’s team in Madrid, it would take a catastrophic offer from Ed Woodward to lure the 27-year-old from the Spanish capital.
Another Frenchman making a big impression this season is 23 year old Alexandre Lacazette. Lyon’s front-man has wowed Ligue 1 with 17 goals in 19 games as well as creating 35 chances from his quick and direct play. Compare that to David Silva’s 35 chances forged this season and you have an idea of just how pivotal the young man has been recently.
Like Benzema, Lacazette can create for his team mates just as easily as tearing apart the opposition defence himself, dropping deep then running at the back line not unlike Sergio Aguero. A former winger that has been converted centrally as of late, Lacazette is showing huge improvements all the time and could be seen as a cheaper and younger alternative to the big names that have been thrown around lately.
Palermo’s explosive young forward Paulo Dybala has enjoyed his football this season, carrying the Italian outfit and scoring nine in 18 games in the process. A quick, skillful, adaptable front-man that has also spent part of his career out wide, Dybala is earning a reputation in Italy and indeed the rest of the world as being one of the best young players around.
Excitingly explosive at only 21, the Argentine is a typical South American footballer we all love – embarrasses defenders for fun, pulling to the wings to create space, running at the defence and most importantly scoring goals. An expert at finding patches of space to get the ball, Dybala can hold onto the ball for team mates too, and we all know how much Louis likes a multifunctional player. A £31m buyout clause would be a potential stumbling block in any move, but if United are willing to continue spending big, Dybala could well be a smart investment.
Last up is a striker who has spent a few seasons in the Premier League already, Aston Villa’s machine Christian Benteke. Finally regaining his form after an injury which ruled him out of the World Cup too, Benteke has formed a reputation of being a hugely well rounded striker well suited to English football. Strong, aggressive, pacey and a surprisingly good dribbler, the Belgian had a very good debut season in England three seasons ago, scoring 23 in 39 for the Birmingham based Villa. A slightly underwhelming second season that brought 11 goals and that nasty injury hasn’t appeared to knock Benteke and he seems fully fit and confident once again. At 24, he has plenty of room for improvement and although not a “Hollywood” name like others United could go for, the aspect of being fully adapted to the demanding aspects of England could be very attractive to manager Louis Van Gaal .