It would be fair to say that Manchester United target Jonathan David did not have the best of games against Croatia in Canada’s World Cup match today.
Even when his side were in control in the early stages, the Lille striker had little involvement, failing to register a shot, and giving away possession about as many times as he kept it.
He did manage to sting goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic’s hands in the second half with a strike from range, but ultimately the striker offered little threat.
Naturally the quality of the opposition was a factor, with the Croatians often turning on the magic to leave Canada chasing shadows.
But what Jonathan David failed to offer his team was what Manchester United have often lacked this season – an outlet.
The forward has been playing in a central role for his club this season and has taken on the mantle of the lone striker having last season played almost exclusively in a front two.
But against Croatia, he lacked the presence or movement of a true centre forward, as he struggled to create space for himself or time for his teammates.
A dynamic forward, David seemed to want to drop deep away from Josko Gvardiol and Dejan Lovren to avoid the physical battle, but often did so without really making himself available in good positions for his teammates.
It was the kind of movement that Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated fans with over his final weeks at Old Trafford, only David saw less of the ball.
With United lacking a real central presence up front, Canada’s match against Croatia will cast some doubts on his ability to lead the line in Erik ten Hag’s attack. Reportedly available for €50m this January, today’s performance is unlikely to increase that price.
Of course, there should be no doubting his talents on the back of one defeat against hardened opposition – after all, David has scored nine goals and provided three assists in 15 appearances for Lille this season, directly contributing to more than 44% of Lille’s goals in Ligue 1.
But this was a clear ‘off day’ for the forward and it was no surprise to see him withdrawn in the final 20 minutes.