Could Douglas Coutinho's arrival spell the end of this striker’s United career?

Manchester United are targeting Brazilian prospect Douglas Coutinho, but could his arrival spell the end of Robin Van Persie's career at Old Trafford?

According to reports, Manchester United have enquired about the availability of Brazilian starlet Douglas Coutinho.

The 20-year-old striker, who currently plies his trade with Atletico Paranaense, has attracted the Red Devils' attention following a string of impressive performances in his home nation.  

Coutinho has scored seven goals in 25 appearances so far this year and has impressed United scouts with his versatility and speed. 

The youngster's representative Taciano Pimenta recently said: "I had a query about interest and Manchester United. Obviously if they want to buy, the interest to sell is there. I go to see if it’s official."

Nonetheless, if a move for the Brazilian forward does materialise, then United fans may have to wave goodbye to one of the club's more-established strikers; even the tactical maestro Louis van Gaal would struggle to find a system to incorporate five attackers up top. 

A prospective move here, could very well result to the departure of Robin van Persie.

The mercurial Dutchman has been in less than inspired form this term, and in 10 appearances for the Red Devils, he has found the back of the net on just three occasions: a poor ratio for one of the Premier League's most highly regarded centre-forwards.

Ultimately, he is failing to live up to the highs of his debut season at Old Trafford (2012/13), during which he single-handedly propelled Sir Alex Ferguson's side to the Premier League title, scoring 26 goals in 38 domestic appearances.

Van Gaal struggled for form under the forgettable reign of Ferguson's successor David Moyes, and while many expected to see a replenished figure under Van Gaal, he has continued to disappoint under his former international head coach. 

  SeasonGoalsGoals/ MinShots/ AppChance ConversionShot AccuracyAppsMins
Robin van Persie 2012-2013 26 120.12 3.71 18% 46% 38 3,123
Robin van Persie 2014-2015 3 282.67 2.6 12% 50% 10 848

United have the option to sign Monaco striker Radamel Falcao on a permanent deal come the end of the season, and if he is able to impress before then, they are likely to do so.

Three years younger than Van Persie , the Colombian is likely to be seen as a more valuable asset to the Manchester outfit.

As the Dutchman approaches the latter years of his career, Van Gaal could opt to let him leave in favour of the talented Coutinho. The Red Devils' manager is renowned for his work with young, inexperienced but talented players, and at just 20 years of age, the Brazilian could be seen as the perfect project. 

Van Gaal has been quite happy to call upon 19-year-old James Wilson as his fourth-choice forward this term - the former Barcelona manager clearly sees the Englishman's potential. Coutinho would, of course, offer another option for the Dutchman.

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