Despite reports linking him with a move away from Manchester United, it seems Louis van Gaal would like to keep Javier Hernandez at the club, although he admits the Mexican will find first team opportunities hard to come by.
Speaking ahead of the Red Devil’s pre-season clash with Inter Milan - ironically the club allegedly leading the chase for Hernandez’s signature – the Dutchman hinted at the forward’s future role. “He has to train a bit more because he has to be fit, but I believe he is fit.”
“When he plays, he shall play in a strikers position, but he has competition from Rooney, Robin van Persie, Welbeck, Zaha and Keane, so a lot of players."
Based on these quotes, I would expect to see Hernandez depart before the end of the summer window, after all he is an extremely talented striker and currently his ability is being put to waste. Having scored 37 goals in 101 appearances for United, he clearly has the credentials to lead the line for the majority of European top flight sides.
The United career of former Crystal Palace-man Wilfried Zaha has proven a major disappointment thus far. While struggling for playing time under David Moyes, the 2012/13 Championship Player of the Season was shipped out on loan to Cardiff City, where he failed to make a significant impact.
Van Gaal is largely expected to implement a 3-5-2 formation throughout the upcoming season, leaving little room for wingers of Zaha’s mould. Speaking of the youngster, he stated: “When we play this system he has to play as a striker, otherwise he cannot play.”
Zaha is set to get his first taste of the pre-season action against Inter Milan, with Van Gaal has confirming he will feature as a forward. This performance could prove vital.
Should he fail to make an impact in this unfamiliar role, he could see his Old Trafford career cut incredibly short; a cruel scenario considering he has only managed two league appearances for the club since joining last summer.
Meanwhile, Ashley Young could be set for a more unusual role, after van Gaal expressed his content with the Englishman’s recent performances.
“Ashley Young is a winger, but he is another type who can play wing-back and he did very well against Roma,” said the Dutchman. “He can play left and right side, but we shall see.”
After impressing defensively in the club’s 3-2 victory over last season’s Serie A runners-up, he could become a key figure in this new-look Manchester United side, playing a similar role to that of Daley Blind and Daryl Janmaat for the Netherlands during the summer World Cup.
The majority of the club’s fans became disillusioned with the winger’s attacking performances last season, therefore he may be more suited to a less-advanced position.
United fans, what do you think? Can Zaha thrive in a centre-forward role? Should Hernandez stay? Can Young adapt as a wing-back?