Signing a striker is proving harder than some Manchester United fans expected.
With just over a fortnight until the January transfer window opens, United are linked with a host of attacking options. Erik ten Hag will watch his side resume their campaign against Burnley in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening.
Signing a striker is easier said than done, as any club or manager will tell you. Strikers cost the most and are closely watched whenever they play.
In the modern era, being a center-forward is more than just scoring goals. Strikers live off goals.
Cody Gakpo is the most prolific attacker United has been linked with. The 23-year-old scored three times in five games for the Netherlands at the World Cup in Qatar and has 13 goals and 17 assists for PSV this season.
It’s an amazing record, even for the Eredivisie, and it’s no wonder he’s attracting so much attention before January 1. Several European clubs, including Liverpool, are interested in him.
Gakpo admitted that he held talks with Ten Hag about moving to Old Trafford during the summer, but the Reds must remember that he is not a striker. The Dutchman has excelled on the left wing for PSV this season.
His best position is on the left flank. Gakpo played as both an attacking midfielder and a striker for the Netherlands during the World Cup, suggesting he could become a striker at Old Trafford.
Gakpo could become a seasoned striker given his quality in front of goal, but he doesn’t want to play there right now. Louis van Gaal admitted earlier this month that Gakpo didn’t want to play as a No. 10 or striker.
Van Gaal: “Cody is 23 but looks younger.” “He’s been with PSV for two or three years and always played left.
“He didn’t want to play center or 10 for me. He thinks I’m a good coach now. “
Given how well Gakpo performed in a central role for the Netherlands in Qatar, Van Gaal was right to move him inside.
Gakpo is more comfortable playing on the left wing, which is understandable given his record for PSV in the last two seasons.
United are desperate to add a striker next month, and signing a left-winger to shoehorn into the position is a gamble they cannot afford to take. Signing a recognised striker could have huge ramifications for their Champions League hopes.
United cannot take such a risk, despite Gakpo’s quality and ability. They need a recognized out-and-out striker to spearhead their attack, however difficult it may be to find one.