Manchester United made the wise decision to let Radamel Falcao return to AS Monaco at the end of the season after the striker netted only four goals in his 26 Premier League appearances.
The Colombian often looked off the pace in the Premier League after only returning from a serious injury in August. While his signing may have enticed more fans to buy tickets for United to watch a flurry of goals conjured up by Rooney, van Persie and Falco, the reality was the opposite – all three strikers struggles for various reasons throughout the season.
United were paying his reported £265,000-a-week wages and made a good decision not to land the striker permanently, with a provisional agreement of £43.5 million in place for the 29-year-old.
That significant transfer fee and wages can be spent wisely elsewhere, and here are three realistic signings Louis van Gaal can splash the cash on if he wants an alternative to Robin van Persie next season:
1. Carlos Bacca (Sevilla)
The Colombian striker has been consistent in front of goal throughout this career, including the past three full seasons in Europe. Carlos Bacca is just coming off the back of a successful campaign with Sevilla where he scored 20 goals in La Liga and a further seven in the UEFA Europa League, including a brace in the final, including the winner this past Wednesday.
Carlos Bacca is 28 now so the price could be considered a big gamble at his age, especially as we’d be expecting the Spanish side to be asking for in the region of £20 million. He has scored 34 goals in 71 league matches in Spain, after the four-time Europa League winners paid Club Bruges around £5 million for his services in 2013 after he had netted 28 goals in 45 games for the Belgian club.
Bacca is both lethal in the six-yard box with his good positioning and movement, as well as being great latching onto through balls to get him one-on-one with goalkeepers. Somewhat like a Michael Owen in his prime. Though as we saw with United last season, they don’t play many through balls to their strikers.
2. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
The 24-year-old has proven himself in each of his three Premier League seasons with lowly Aston Villa and this could be the summer we see Christian Benteke leave Villa Park. His 42 goals in 88 Premier League games have been key to keeping the West Midlands club in the English top flight but keeping hold of him this summer is going to be one mean feat.
Benteke was forced to stay with the Villans last summer, which proved a vital decision by the 1982 European Cup winners. Tim Sherwood has recently revealed the player has a £30 million buy-out clause in his contract and with few top, young strikers on the market for that kind of price, Manchester United could well splash the cash on him this summer.
Christian Benteke brings pace and power and a great goalscoring record with him. He’s good on the counter-attack and in the air.
3. Mauro Icardi (Internazionale)
Once a Barcelona youth team player, Mauro Icardi left Camp Nou for first-team football with Sampdoria. Now 22-years old and proven himself in Italy, Icardi could seek a move away from the San Siro after two seasons to experience Champions League football.
The Argentine has scored 29 goals in 57 Serie A appearances for the Nerazzurri, attracting the attention of Premier League champions Chelsea, amongst others. That would give United tough competition, as well as the task of persuading the Italian giants to cash in on their star striker.
Icardi is a lethal finisher who would profit from the likes of Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney creating chances for him. His lethargic displays off the ball may dissuade José Mourinho from wanting to buy the youngster.