Manchester City’s dominance throughout the 2017-18 season was the biggest indicator so far hinting that vast improvements need to be made to José Mourinho’s Manchester United squad ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. Pep Guardiola’s Man City became the first team in history to reach 100 points in a 38-game Premier League season as they emphatically claimed their third title, finishing 19 points ahead of second-placed Man United.
More business to come
United have already made their first two acquisitions of the summer, with the third expected to arrive later this week as part of a much-needed overhaul. £50million Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred followed 19-year-old Porto right-back Diogo Dalot in arriving at Old Trafford in June — and Stoke City goalkeeper Lee Grant will be next to join as third-choice in between the sticks.
Mourinho is said to still want a centre-back and left-back as Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian all face uncertain futures, but the United boss is also supposedly keen on bringing in a back-up for Romelu Lukaku. The Belgium international is the only big frontman Mourinho has at the club, the type of player he traditionally likes having available to him, so competition could be brought in before the transfer window slams shut.
Seeking a striker
Mourinho’s wish to bring in a back-up striker would suggest that he doesn’t see young duo Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford featuring down the middle which could affect both players’ game time further next term. Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy went under plaudits’ radars last season but was the fourth highest scorer in the Premier League with 20 goals, unbelievably four more than Lukaku totalled.
The 31-year-old is deserving of a big move away from the King Power Stadium to complete his fairytale career, but you could consider him too similar to Martial and Rashford to tempt Mourinho to make a move.
A player much more suited to Mourinho’s taste is West Ham United frontman Marko Arnautović, who thrived in the position under David Moyes last season as he was named The Hammer’s Player of the Season. Arnautović netted 11 league goals in his debut season at the London Stadium and standing at 6 ft 4, could be the ideal big man – he’s valued at £50million though which certainly doesn’t make him a second string star.
It’s unlikely he’ll be happy to settle for a secondary role either as he could be the main man at West Ham for years to come. One man, however, who could be happy to continue as a back-up striker though is Paco Alcacer. Things haven’t gone as Alcacer would’ve liked at Barcelona following 2016 arrival, playing second fiddle to Luis Suarez during his whole time at the Nou Camp and was limited to just 17 La Liga appearances last season.
The answer could lie in La Liga
There’s no doubting the Spain international’s eye for goal though and aged just 24 he could definitely settle down as a long-term attacking option at Old Trafford.
Former Middlesbrough striker Christhian Stuani has lit up La Liga since joining Girona in 2016 and scored 21 La Liga goals last term, more than ‘world-class’ Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann. This would certainly be a bit of a wild card option, but at 31 years old you would think he’d be more than happy to join United for the latter years of his career.
Options in Germany
Freiburg endured a disappointing 2017-18 Bundesliga campaign as their stooped to a 15th-place finish, but 6 ft 1 striker Nils Petersun consistently impressed and finished as second highest scorer behind Robert Lewandowski. It’s almost certainly a name many United fans wouldn’t have heard of before, but he’d certainly offer something different to the attack. However, Lukaku’s talent is considerably greater and the former wouldn’t get much game time.
RB Leipzig’s highly-rated frontman Timo Werner may have flopped at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but his promise certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed and he’s wanted by many at United.
Aged just 22, Werner has the pace and aerial threat which could morph him into the perfect back-up for Lukaku and maybe even the Belgian’s strike partner in a couple of season’s time. The German will likely want to continue starting every week though, a factor which makes this transfer a more unrealistic one.
There are plenty of options out there for Mourinho to pick from, so expect a new striker to be at United once August rolls around – the only question that remains is who will the gaffer go for?