Is this Louis van Gaal's biggest priority at Manchester United?

Louis Van Gaal

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.

  Midfielder GoalsPlayed
Manchester City 44 38
Arsenal 36 38
Liverpool 33 38
Tottenham Hotspur 25 38
Fulham 24 38
West Ham United 23 38
Chelsea 22 38
Everton 22 38
Sunderland 22 38
Swansea City 22 38
West Bromwich Albion 18 38
Norwich City 18 38
Hull City 17 38
Stoke City 16 38
Manchester United 16 38
Southampton 14 38
Newcastle United 14 38
Cardiff City 13 38
Aston Villa 13 38
Crystal Palace 13 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:

  Midfielder GoalsPlayed
Manchester United 31 38
Tottenham Hotspur 28 38
Manchester City 27 38
Arsenal 25 38
Chelsea 20 38
Liverpool 16 38

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.

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