Nothing quite sums up Manchester United’s fall from grace than their most recent striker link.
At the same time the Red Devils were in the process of losing to Brighton at Old Trafford for the first time ever, United were being reliably linked with a 33-year-old Marko Arnautovic.
The Austrian was once a decent forward option for West Ham, but to suggest he is the type of striker Manchester United should be currently targeting in their position is bizarre.
Then again, Manchester United’s ability to bring in a decent no.9 has, like their league form, fallen off a cliff since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
The Scotsman’s last great bit of business before he retired saw him sign Robin van Perise from Arsenal, with the Dutchman going on to almost single-handedly win United their last league title in 2012/13.
Since Van Persie, though, Manchester United’s striker signings have been a mixed bag to say the least.
Rating every Manchester United striker signing post-Ferguson
Arrived: September 2014, £6.84m loan fee
Left: June 2015, loan ended
On his day, Radamel Falcao was one of the deadliest strikers in Europe. The Colombian burst onto the European stage with FC Porto, who he scored 72 goals and provided 17 assists for in 87 outings.
The forward then made the switch to Atletico Madrid where he helped the Spaniards win a Copa del Rey, Europa League and a UEFA Super Cup by scoring 68 in 90.
He was then signed by Monaco before being loaned to Manchester United. However, after suffering a Cruciate Ligament Rupture for the French side, Manchester United decide to sign him up on loan in what was the first of many short-sited transfer moves. Falcao had a torrid time in England, scoring just four goals in 29 outings for United.
Arrived: September 2015, £54m transfer fee
Left: Still at club
Manchester United spent big on Martial all the way back in 2015 with the view that he was the next big thing.
However, it is fair to say he has failed to live up to the hype or his transfer fee since making the move to England.
The Frenchman has struggled for any sort of consistent form during his seven years in Manchester and, the last time he played a full season for United as a striker, he scored four league goals.
Granted, he did show promise in the 2022 pre-season under new boss Erik ten Hag, but he is yet to prove himself a useful centre-forward on the biggest stage.
Arrived: July 2015, £30.6m transfer fee
Left: January 2017, £14.4m transfer fee
Like Martial, Depay was brought to United with the view that he could be their main no.9 for many years to come.
However, the now 28-year-old had a nightmare stint in England, finding the net just seven times in 53 games before being sold for a big loss.
Arrived: July 2016, free transfer
Left: March 2018, free transfer
Ibrahimovic was another short-sited signing to fix a long-term issue. However, to United’s credit, he was a useful asset during his first season at the club.
The Swede scored 28 and assisted 10 in 46 outings for Manchester United in 2016/17, playing key roles in the Reds winning a Europa League and League Cup. Granted, he did miss the semi-finals and final of the Europa League, but he scored twice in the League Cup final as United ran out 3-2 winner over Southampton.
And whilst his wages will no doubt have been extortionate, Manchester United did not pay a transfer fee for Ibra.
Arrived: July 2017, £76.2m transfer fee
Left: August 2019, £66.6m transfer fee
Manchester United’s signing of Romelu Lukaku is a hard one to judge. The Belgian is clearly a very talented striker and scored 42 and assisted 12 in 96 outings.
However, he earned a reputation for missing easy chances whilst at United and his weight did become something of an issue.
But how much of that was down to Lukaku and how much of it was down to the club? Jose Mourinho was the man in charge of United when Lukaku was signed, and his style of play can seriously hinder strikers.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer then took over from Mourinho and was not a fan of Lukaku, often leaving out of the starting eleven.
It is also worth noting that when he was sold to Inter Milan, the Italian side changed up Lukaku’s diet and he once again turned into a goalscoring machine.
On the whole, though, Lukaku’s United stint was not a great one, especially considering the fee spent.
Arrived: January 2020, loan fee £10.8m
Left: January 2021, loan expired
Odion Ighalo was as feel-good story, with the long-time United fan joining the club despite never really being at their level.
In reality, though, his signing was a huge waste of money. United spent over £10m on a loan fee all for the Nigerian to score five in 23 outings across an entire year, with not a single goal coming in the Premier League.
Arrived: October 2020, free transfer
Left: July 2022, contract expired
Edinson Cavani showed promise in his first season at Manchester United. The striker did have some minor injury issues, but he found his feet at the back end of 2020/21, scoring four and assisting one in his last seven league outings of the season.
As a result, there was an expectation that Cavani could kick on be a real asset for United in 2021/22. However, the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, combined with Cavani’s seeming unwillingness to declare himself fit, led to the South American starting just seven league games last season, scoring just one goal in the process.
Arrived: August 2021, £13.5m transfer fee
Left: Still at club
Cristiano Ronaldo’s second stint at Manchester United can be viewed as both positive or negative, depending on which side you are on.
Those who are fans of Ronaldo argue that his 18 goals and three assists in 30 league games last season was excellent given how poor United were, and that he is the only reason they were able to finish in the top-six.
However, on the other side, a case can be made that Ronaldo’s presence made those around him worse and his lack of pressing ability hindered the club against the better sides.
What has not helped the club in anyway, though, is Ronaldo wanting to leave Manchester United one year after signing because they are no longer in the Champions League.
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