Even a blind man can see Manchester United need a striker. So far this season the Reds have mustered just 20 goals, while Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, the Premier League’s top scorer, has 18 by himself. Anthony Martial for all that he seems to contribute under Erik Ten Hag, can not be relied on to stay fit, the issues with #11 are well known and now Cristiano Ronaldo has ended his United career.
This leaves Martial and Marcus Rashford as United’s only senior strikers, making it the priority signing of the summer. But finding one is not so easy. The Ivan Toneys, Victor Osmihens and Jonathan Davids of the world are easy to identify, but they’ll be expensive. So where might United go should they want (or need) to look elsewhere?
Here are a few ideas:
The man Ivan Toney replaced at Brentford, Watkins has a habit of scoring against United. At 26 he’s entering his prime, is proven in the Premier League and is the type of player who could be suited to a Ten Hag style with his direct running, ability to press defenders and run the channels to stretch defences. Watkins could be the type of player to provide that penalty area threat the Reds are currently lacking. The only stumbling block could be price as Watkins is under contract until 2025, meaning Villa are under no pressure to sell.
All the talk has been about Christopher Nkunku at RB Leipzig, but given he’s not an out and out striker and could cost upwards of £100m it doesn’t seem like the type of transfer Ten Hag will be looking for. However if Nkunku has been scouted, then maybe United should look at his team mate. A move to Milan didn’t work out for the Portuguese striker due to a combination of factors, but since his move to Germany, first with Frankfurt, then Leipzig, Silva has started to look back to his best. Silva is a player who can lead the line by coming short to protect the ball to allow runners to go beyond him but also the type of striker capable of finishing the chances United are currently missing. But like Watkins there remains a stumbling block with Silva under contract until 2026 and though Leipzig are a selling club, a big sale from Nkunku could negate any need to sell anyone else.
Lillian Thuram was one of the finest defenders of the late 1990s and early 2000s and remains France’s most capped player. Well, did you know his son is also a footballer, a striker no less, and he’s just been called into the French World Cup squad. Thuram has been a slow starter and was in and out of the side at Borussia Moenchengladbach. But this season he’s made the starting spot his own with ten goals in the first 15 games. At just 25 Thuram is another player with is prime years ahead of him. But unlike the previous options, Thuram is unlikely to cost a high fee. Thuram is out of contract in July and so from January United could negotiate a pre contract agreement with the player, thus allowing them to get two strikers in the summer without stretching the transfer budget, or they could try and sign him in January for a small fee as Borussia have proven in the past, with the sale of Dennis Zakaria to Juventus that they are willing to sell in January to avoid losing a player for nothing.
A huge reason why Benfica were willing to allow Darwin Nunez to join Liverpool (aside from the huge fee) was that they knew what they had coming through. The 21 year old has responded to the opportunity handed to him by scoring 14 times in 21 appearances this season and with 20 goals in 45 games in total for the Portuguese giants he’s averaging close to a goal every other game with plenty of room for improvement. But it’s worth nothing, firstly that at 21 Ramos is extremely raw, which can be a positive as it will allow Erik Ten Hag to mould him, but it also means he may be prone to rash decision making as he’s still learning the game. Like Nunez before him Ramos may also command a hefty fee to persuade Benfica to sell.
A real wildcard pick could be Sevilla’s Moroccan striker. Looking to make a big impact at the World Cup the 25 year averages around one in three at Sevilla, though a ten game drought at the start of this season raises cause for concern, though Sevilla started the season terribly, so perhaps it’s merely a blip. If United are looking for someone to lead the line Eyn-Nesri could be the man to turn to with his 6ft 2inch frame capable of being the attacking conduit United conduit. He may not be someone United look to for their main striker, but if Ten Hag wants to persist with Martial as his first choice striker then a player like Eyn-Nesri could be the ideal backup to cover for Martial’s inevitable injury lay offs or to provide him with a break to maybe ease those injuries.
But what if.. South America
Having allowed Moises Caicedo and Julian Alvarez to slip through their fingers in the last couple of seasons word is about that United are taking the South American market more seriously this time around. Like just about every other major European giant United are showing a firm interest in Palmeiras wonderkid Endrick. But who else might they be on the lookout for?
Having made the Brazilian World Cup squad ahead of his more illustrious team mate Gabriel Barbosa, Flamengo’s 25-year-old striker PEDRO could be an option. After a failed spell at Fiorentina as a teenager the time could be right for Pedro to have another crack a major European league. If United were looking for someone younger then Santos’s MARCOS LEONARDO (19), Atletico Parananse’s VITOR ROQUE (17) or JULIAN ROMERO (18) of Independiente.