Having coached the Graziano Pelle at AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie, Louis van Gaal is very familiar with Southampton’s breakout star, Graziano Pelle, the striker who has scored nine goals in his first 14 games of the year thus far.
The Italian has served as one notable reason for Southampton’s surprise success in the current 2014-15 year, as the Saints have jumped into the top of the league table at third place, boasting two five-game unbeaten runs.
Van Gaal, set to face Ronald Koeman’s side on Dec. 8 at St. Mary’s Stadium in a PL fixture, knew that the 29-year-old was primed for instant achievement after his $12.46 million switch from Feyenoord to Southampton this summer.
He compared Pelle to Robin van Persie, a United striker that the former Netherlands boss also had as a player.
Said Van Gaal, per Sky Sports:
“I am not surprised [at his success] because I bought him at AZ as he was an attacking point.
“He is also very creative. He is always seeing the third man. Van Persie is also always seeing the third man.
“Those kind of strikers are the ones I like. So it is not surprising. It may be surprising that he scores nine goals – that is a lot – but he can do it. I knew that.
“So that was not so easy for him but later on he came in the squad and showed his capacity but later on he showed that much more and when Koeman bought him – because he was also manager of AZ – he took him with him to Feyenoord and he explodes. It is fantastic for him.”
It was clear that Pelle had something special following two seasons at Feyenoord, where he buried 55 goals in 66 overall appearances. His 6-foot-4 size, which is certainly helpful to combat the physicality of the PL, is utilized well in the air and on the ground attack. Pelle’s directness on the finishing end makes him especially difficult to defend around the net, and United will certainly pay close attention to him on Monday.