Javier Hernandez is today in Germany, and Sky sources understand that a fee of around £9 million is in the process of being agreed between Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen. Worryingly for fans, youth prospect Adnan Januzaj is also rumoured to be joining the Bundesliga.
The Januzaj deal would be a strange one should it go through. United will certainly not want to lose their starlet in a loan to buy deal, while it would make little sense for Dortmund to bring in and develop another club’s player over their own academy products. Nevertheless, the deal appears to be going ahead.
Whatever the outcome of the Januzaj rumours, the loss of Hernandez will be keenly felt. Despite his eightieth minute heroics that were regularly deployed last season, Fellaini is no more a striker than Juan Mata is a true winger, and Hernandez’ departure will leave United light at the front.
Wayne Rooney does not look as though he has settled into the number 9 role. Hernandez’ prospective replacement looks to be Anthony Martial, the highly-rated Monaco forward, and it is understood that United are set to recruit his services with a £36 million bid. Martial’s stats do not look initially impressive – while he has great potential, he managed eleven goals in 42 appearances for Monaco last season, not the sort of strike rate United need to kick start their stuttering season.
Stats, however, are not everything, and there is certainly more than a glimmer of hope in what he would bring to the team. Should he lead the line, Rooney would drop back to the number ten role, the position in which he has been a prolific provider as well as goalscorer in the past, and a position that may suit him better at this stage in his career as the predatory and explosive qualities of his youth have matured into a more considered style of play.
Martial’s pace and threat would stretch defences, allowing Rooney to operate more effectively behind him either as provider or goalscorer. A further injection of pace into Manchester United’s attack would also help shift some of the burden that is put upon Memphis Depay to run at defences, and will give United more balance in the final third.
At the other end of the pitch the de Gea saga drags on. Romero’s performance against Swansea was far from top class, as he mishit a pass straight to Jonjo Shelvey and certainly could have done better for the Gomis goal, and United and van Gaal need to resolve the speculation surrounding de Gea’s future.
Louis van Gaal said that he was uncertain if de Gea would still be a United player come Tuesday, and if he does leave to Real Madrid, it will be vital for United that the excellent Keylor Navas travels in the other direction. De Gea, perhaps more than any other player, was instrumental in securing United’s return to the Champions League, and it would be a worrying statement of weakness should Sergio Romero start in next week’s fixture against Liverpool.
Louis van Gaal’s philosophy is often difficult for mere mortals to understand, but he will be hard pressed to escape criticism if Martial does not click, Rooney continues to misfire, and de Gea is meekly allowed to leave to a club Man United once considered European equals.