Graziano Pelle
Pelle has netted nine times times this seasonGetty Images

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has compared Southampton striker Graziano Pelle to Robin van Persie, on the eve of the pair's Premier League meeting on Monday at St Mary's.

Pelle followed Saints boss Ronald Koeman from Feyenoord during the summer and has thrived in English football, scoring nine times this season.

The 29-year-old played under Van Gaal during the pair's spell at AZ Alkmaar, and ahead of the Italian international facing United the former Netherlands boss has lavished praise on the forward.

"I am not surprised [at his success] because I bought him at AZ as he was an attacking point," he said. "I've said about (Robin) van Persie that I like strikers who are an attacking point, not only a striker who scores goals.

"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.

"I had Shota Arveladze, one of the best strikers I have trained in my career. I have trained a lot of strikers but he was one of the best and he had to compete with him.

"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."

With Radamel Falcao still out injured United are expected to start with Van Persie leading the attack alongside the returning Wayne Rooney for the visit to Southampton, who have been beaten by Manchester City and Arsenal in their last two games.

The 31-year-old Van Persie's days at United are reportedly numbered despite having a good relationship with Van Gaal, with Falcao and James Wilson tipped by the manager to be the future of the club's attack.