Belfast Telegraph

Louis van Gaal set to scrap forward thinking

By Jim Hirst

Manchester United are prepared to start the season with Wayne Rooney as their only established senior striker.

Louis van Gaal has sold Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce and decided against signing Radamel Falcao on a permanent basis from Monaco.

That means the United boss has been left with Rooney, unproven youngster James Wilson, and Javier Hernandez, who spent last season on loan at Real Madrid, in the forwards department.

United have been linked with a number of strikers this summer including Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, Tottenham forward Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani of Paris St Germain.

But it is understood United are unlikely to bid for another striker before the transfer window shuts on September 2.

Rooney played in midfield at times last season, but it is believed that Van Gaal wants to use his captain as a central striker in a 4-3-3 formation this campaign.

The 29-year-old played as a lone frontman in United's tour opener against Club America in Seattle on Saturday and he is likely to remain up front this season.

Even if Rooney gets injured before the transfer window shuts, senior sources at the club insist Van Gaal would probably refrain from dipping into the market for a striker.

Van Gaal is understood to be confident about the number of goals he has in his team.

The United manager has been impressed by Memphis Depay's shooting technique and free-kicks in training so he believes the £25million winger can replicate the kind of form that saw him bang in 22 league goals for PSV Eindhoven last term.

Depay was encouraged by the way he combined with Rooney in the 1-0 win over Club America at CenturyLink Field.

"Wayne coached me a lot through the game and talked to me about which position I should take and when to defend," the Dutchman said. "We have to form a duo and I have the right feeling with him. It's an honour to play with such a legend like Wazza."

There is also a feeling among senior figures at the club that Hernandez will come good at United this season despite being offloaded to Real Madrid last term.

Van Gaal revealed the Mexican will join up with United's touring party on Saturday and has challenged him to show his worth.

"He can prove himself again and now Falcao and Van Persie are gone, his chances are better," the United manager said.

A decision on whether to send 19-year-old Wilson out on loan will be taken later in the transfer window.

The teenager is likely to get a run-out in United's second tour match against the San Jose Earthquakes, which takes place at the Avaya Stadium tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Christian Benteke - linked with United just last week - appears to be on his way to Liverpool after the Anfield side reached an agreement with Aston Villa over the payment terms for the £32.5million transfer.

A bid to trigger the Belgium international's release clause was submitted on Friday and Reds chief executive Ian Ayre has been conducting negotiations over the weekend as to just how and when that money will be paid.

It's understood understands a satisfactory conclusion has been reached in those discussions with Liverpool believed to be paying half the fee up front.

The 24-year-old will now undergo a medical, which is likely to take place on Monday evening or Tuesday morning,

As a result Benteke will not be joining his new team-mates for the remainder of their tour with the squad due to fly to Kuala Lumpur for a match against a Malaysia XI on Friday after Monday's friendly against Adelaide United.

Belfast Telegraph


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