Is finding goalscoring midfielders the priority if Manchester United are to win the league?
New manager Louis van Gaal is to begin his mission to turn Manchester United back into title challengers, and he might wonder quite where to begin.
A great place to start would be finding midfield players who can score goals, and add unpredictability to the United attack.
Opta Statistics from last season show that United had just 16 goals scored by midfield players, the joint 14th highest in the Premier League - equal to Stoke City.
It's a woeful return from a club who aimed to be challenging for the title, put to shame by rivals Manchester City who saw a staggering 44 goals contributed from their midfield.
|West Ham United||23||38|
|West Bromwich Albion||18||38|
Title challengers Arsenal saw 36 midfielder goals scored, and Liverpool 33. Chelsea on 22 can be unhappy with their tally from the position.
It's emphasised from United's perspective by the club's title winning sides a decade ago which saw Paul Scholes net 14 league goals alone in 2002/03. The Red Devils currently possess no player quite like him who can contribute heavily and share the goalscoring burden with the strikers.
The problem is not new nor unique to David Moyes' side of last season. The previous campaign in 2012/13, United also saw exactly the same amount of goals scored from midfielders, the difference then was a fit Robin van Persie across the entire season who masked shortcomings in that area by winning the Golden Boot.
The year previous, in 2011/12, United actually topped the Premier League in terms of goals from their midfield, with Antonio Valencia a star performer. Here is a look at how they compared to their rivals, with Liverpool in the situation United are in now:
Van Gaal has been linked with signing midfielder Kevin Strootman, who netted five goals prior to injury for Roma last season. Adding goalscoring wingers from wide areas will also be vital for the Red Devils to flourish next season.
As the Red Devils prepare to spend between £100 million and £200 million, if reports are to be believed, addressing this area of shortcoming is expected to be a large priority for the Dutchman.