Manchester United have had somewhat of a mixed transfer window, with Lisandro Martinez being the one signing who realistically starts while Malacia needs to prove his ability to start over Shaw and Eriksen to prove his versatility to play a little deeper, behind Bruno Fernandes. Ronaldo looks close to a transfer away from the club owing to the Red Devils’ failure to achieve Champions League Football and this leaves United in shortage of firepower when it comes to spearheading the attack. If Ronaldo does leave, the club will have Martial as the only striker and if previous seasons are anything to go by, there is quite a big element of risk there.
Man United has been linked with a host of attacking players, one of them being Lille’s star striker, Jonathan David. The question however remains, does Jonathan David possess the ability to play in Erik Ten Hag’s system.
At just 22 years of age, the Canadian has played 3 different roles, an attacking midfielder in Genk, a supporting striker in his first season at Lille, and a lone striker sometimes in the second season and this is the kind of versatility that makes him a threat. At Manchester United, he will be deployed as a lone striker flanked by Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
Jonathan David has scored 28 goals in 2 league seasons while Martial has 5 goals in his previous 2 seasons. In spite of starting the preseason well, the Frenchman’s laziness on the pitch and weak aerial ability has always been a great cause of concern. On the other hand, while Ronaldo contributed 18 league goals last season, his unwillingness to press coupled with his uncertain future in addition to his age calls for another striker sooner rather than later.
David is a clinical finisher adept at scoring using both feet and his strong aerial and physical ability makes him a threat in the air. On paper, this seems like a perfect Ronaldo replacement. Last season, he scored 13 goals and outperformed his expected goals by 2.81, a great stat for a striker. Moreover, his rapid pace and work ethic makes him a great presser who can win the ball high up the pitch, something which Erik likes and Ronaldo lacks.
It goes without saying that the step up from Ligue 1 to the Premier League and Lille to Manchester United is nothing short of a mean feat but given time and service, along with Ten Hag’s coaching, Jonathan David can lead the United front line for years.
His outstanding game reading allows him to find openings in a disorganized defence, allowing him to exploit that space practically instantly. One of the most notable differences is that he constantly goes into such areas by targeting the blindside of the closest defender, allowing him to stay one step ahead of the opponent. This offers him an advantage in circumstances where he is closely guarded by opposing defenders.
Unpredictability is another feature of David’s game that identifies him. David immediately shifts course by impersonating a run, creating space for him to strike. He will occasionally sprint alongside the defender, giving the idea that he has everything under control. And just as the defender is about to fall to it, he switches his trajectory, mocking the defender and leaving him for dead.
If David does end up making a move touted to be in the region of 50 million euros, there is however no guarantee he will be an immediate starter. Supposedly Ronaldo leaves, Martial will be given a chance to stake his claim, but a slight drop in standards and he will immediately be replaced by David, who in turn will grab the opportunity with both hands, and Martial will have to be content playing a squad role.