Who Is Man United’s Mystery Striker?

Louis van Gaal was at his cryptic best yesterday, insisting Manchester United are still in the hunt for a forward – but one who has not been linked with the club in the press.

The identity of the mystery striker has puzzled fans as dozens of players have already been linked with United this summer.

We try and guess who it could be. Who do you reckon?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

France Soccer League One

The Swedish star has never played in England and would be a welcome, high-profile addition to the Premier League.

Recent reports have linked the striker with a return to AC Milan, but he’d fit the new galactico era under van Gaal and Ed Woodward to a tee.

Money would not be an issue although Ibrahimovic’s relationship with United’s boss could prove to be a stumbling block – he called van Gaal “a pompous arse” in his autobiography.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Germany Soccer Bundesliga Schalke

United have a history of signing strikers nearing the end of their careers as back-up, with a 31-year-old Teddy Sheringham, 30-year-old Michael Owen and 36-year-old Henrik Larsson relatively recent examples.

31-year-old Huntelaar would certainly fit the bill. The Dutch striker signed a two-year contract extension at Schalke last December but may be tempted by a reunion with his former national team boss.

Huntelaar has had relatively unsuccessful spells at Real Madrid and AC Milan and would not be the marquee signing United fans might be wishing for. However, with van Gaal stating that Wayne Rooney will play as a lone striker this season, the Dutch man would provide ideal back-up with just an inexperienced James Wilson and an injured Javier Hernandez as alternatives.

Charlie Austin

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Queens Park Rangers v Tottenham Hotspur - Loftus Road

Again, United have a record of signing relatively unheralded strikers from Premier League rivals and turning them into bigger stars.

Dwight Yorke blossomed following his move from Aston Villa in 1998, while Louis Saha did well – despite injuries – after moving from Fulham.

It’s surprising that Austin has yet made a move from relegated QPR, despite intensive interest from the likes of Newcastle United and Villa. United fans may scoff but the 26-year-old scored 18 Premier League goals last year – more than Robin van Persie, Falcao and Wilson combined. His proposed £15 million fee and wages would prove no problem to a profligate Ed Woodward.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Germany Soccer Bundesliga Dortmund

Only this week, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge rued the fact that Premier League clubs have the financial muscle to “empty out” the top talents in the Bundelsiga.

United have been consistently linked with Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski, which seems to rule them out based on van Gaal’s “mystery striker” comments.

One possible alternative is Borussia Dortmund’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been amongst the top scorers in Germany for the past two seasons.

Arsenal have been consistently linked with a £30 million move for the 26-year-old, whose talents could prove ideally suited to the Premier League.

Anderson Talisca

Portugal Soccer

Signing a Brazilian called Anderson from a Portuguese club might give United fans nightmares but Talisca shouldn’t be discounted just because of his hapless namesake.

The 21-year-old can operate as a striker or attacking midfielder, and recently featured on the list of most valuable young players in Europe that was topped by Raheem Sterling.

The Benfica youngster has been tipped as the ‘new Rivaldo’ and any deal could be sweetened by the inclusion of unwanted right-back Rafael.