25/02/2015 12:55 GMT | Updated 27/04/2015 06:59 BST

Why Fixing Manchester United's Striking Problems Will Be Tougher Than You Think

Will Manchester United secure the future of David de Gea? How many new defenders will it take for them to look competent at the back? Who will be Manchester United's ​new creative genius in midfield?

All pertinent questions. All of which need to be answered, preferably by the start of next season. But manager Louis van Gaal has another problem rearing it's ugly head.

That ugly head doesn't belong to Wayne Rooney. But if that's what you were thinking, it wouldn't be far off. Instead, consider United's forward options. Despite boasting - on paper - one of the strongest strike forces on the planet, there are two men in particular who have flattered to deceive.

So much so, that it could end up costing them their Old Trafford careers.

The talk about Radamel Falcao's loan move to United, the monstrous amount of cash he's pocketing and the 'will he/won't he' sign permanently scenario has been spoken of enough to last us through to the winter World Cup of 2022.

Suggestions are that the Colombian's season tally of four goals has convinced van Gaal that the Monaco forward is not worth the £43m it will take to sign him.

Greater numbers of United fans are coming around to that fact. Falcao is not the player he once was. He's averaging a goal every 234 minutes, still looks off the pace and has most recently been dropped to accommodate Wayne Rooney's position up front.

Falcao will be given another chance against Sunderland this weekend, but it comes down to circumstance over preference. Dutch forward Robin van Persie will miss the game. He faces a spell on the sidelines after injuring himself at Swansea - but even his performances over the last 18 months suggest his best days are behind him.

His £24m move from Arsenal in 2012 was always going to be a short-term swing for success. It paid off in his debut season; a Premier League golden boot and league winners' medal is the proof. But since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure, van Persie has only shown his best form in fits and starts.

Even that transfer was subject to criticism at the time. £24m for a 29-year-old striker seemed excessive. But considering his prolific season for Arsenal the year before (30 Premier League goals, and his first golden boot) and the fact it would directly weaken a rival club - it was an option worth taking.

But if there were people struggling to get their heads around that, scoot up five paragraphs. United have in place a deal for a 29-year-old striker who has four goals to his name and is still showing ill-effects of a debilitating injury lay-off, but will cost them nearly twice as much. Is that good business?

As much as Manchester United fans want so badly for Falcao to succeed, he has done nothing to suggest it's a risk worth taking.

Van Persie will get another season. His issue boils down to whether he can earn himself a new contract. Expiring at the end of 2015/16, he's going to have to prepare to move aside for younger blood - whether that's away from Old Trafford or as a regular on the bench if he re-signs.

United need to find an answer to their front-line problems, as a matter of urgency. But if it's not van Persie or Falcao, where does the answer lie? James Wilson is a promising option, but he's not yet ready to shoulder the responsibility of scoring United 25 goals a season.

Van Gaal is going to have to spend big, but the quandary deepens. There are not too many players out there considered in the class of Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero - let alone ones who are actually available to sign.

Edinson Cavani has been mentioned. But while his goalscoring performance against Chelsea in the Champions League last week thrust him into the spotlight, the Uruguayan has come in for criticism of his own for parts of the season.

Over at Lyon, Alexandre Lacazette has fired 21 Ligue 1 goals in 23 games so far. He's younger, dynamic and cheaper. But he's only recently proven himself as a top dog. Newcastle United nearly signed him last summer and you wonder if it's too big an ask for him to be an instant success.

Gonzalo Higuain and Jackson Martinez have been linked with United's rivals Liverpool and Arsenal respectively. They could come under consideration, but the man strongly linked with United last week was Robert Lewandowski - recently played out of position at Bayern Munich, and unhappy with Pep Guardiola's methods.

To put it bluntly, dream on.

Manchester United's striking issues are not as simple as throwing away money 'till it sticks. And if they don't make the top four, just imagine how much more difficult their re-model is going to be.

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