Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is looking to add a world-class striker to their ranks ahead of the 2023-24 season. The Red Devils are in desperate need of a number 9 in the attacking line to become a contender for major trophies.
For the 2022-23 campaign, the Dutch manager largely utilised Marcus Rashford in a central role. The move reaped dividends, as the English striker scored 30 goals and assisted 11 times across all competitions. However, to accommodate the Rashford centrally, Ten Hag had to use other players in unfamiliar roles.
Bruno Fernandes was often used as a winger, and loanee Wout Weghorst as a #10. The Red Devils allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to leave mid-season and signed Weghorst as a short-term replacement. The Dutchman, however, struggled for goals and managed just two across all competitions.
The 20-time Premier League champions have been linked with multiple players, and are likely to spend big to fill the position. Here are four players that Manchester United can look to sign ahead of the 2023-24 season to fill the striker position:
Harry Kane enjoyed yet another phenomenal season, hitting the 30-goal mark in the Premier League alone. The Englishman became the first player ever to score in 25 different league games. He also beat United legend Wayne Rooney’s goal tally for the National Team, and in the Premier League, in a space of two months.
As in recent seasons, the 29-year-old’s personal form was in stark contrast to Tottenham Hotspur’s. The North London side had an indifferent season, finishing 8th with just 18 wins. Well into his peak, the striker may finally seek a new club to add a trophy to his name.
The English striker famously turned down Manchester City two years ago, extending with Spurs instead. Kane’s contract is due to expire in the summer of 2024. Tottenham may be tempted to sell their captain early, rather than lose him on a free transfer.
The Telegraph reported that Tottenham expect a bid of £90 million for Kane, and £110 million if the bid comes from within the Premier League. The high asking price has not deterred suitors. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and PSG have all been linked with the 29-year-old.
He has the perfect profile for a centre-forward. The Three-Lions captain is one of the best finishers in world football. Since 2017, he has scored 145 goals from an xG of just 111.8 (via fbref). He is also adept at creating quality chances for his teammates. He recorded 3 assists this season, from an xAG of 7.
Harry Kane – Stay. pic.twitter.com/YfoApqE5iJ
— . (@sinnithfc) June 3, 2023
Kane is also excellent at dropping deeper and getting involved in the build-up. He averages 4.96 progressive passes per 90 minutes, as well as 1.59 progressive carries. Manchester United are unlikely to find a striker as well-rounded as the Spurs man in the market.
However, his huge fee poses some important questions. Kane is currently 29, and would only serve as a medium-term signing. And although he has remained fit throughout the last two seasons, he has a long track record of recurring ankle injuries (via transfermarkt).
Victor Osimhen enjoyed a phenomenal 2022-23 season to guide Napoli to a first league title in 33 years. The Nigerian was the top scorer in the Serie A, with 26 goals from 32 games (stats via Transfermarkt). He also scored 5 goals as Napoli reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Since joining the Gli Azzurri for £80 million from Lille, Osimhen has scored 59 goals and created 14 more in 101 games. The 24-year-old has been used as a lone striker in front of two wingers, like the way he would be deployed at Old Trafford.
The Nigeria international has been linked with multiple clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich. Football London reported that he could cost over £100 million, as Chelsea lead the race to make a bid for the striker.
However, the player’s camp denied any rumours that an agreement had been reached with another club. Italian transfer expert Fabrizio Romano also claimed that the Serie A side have not even fixed a price tag for their star striker.
Osimhen would be a different profile from what Harry Kane offers. He is good at holding up play and combining with teammates in the final third. He also has excellent long passing, which helps to kickstart attacks deep in the opposition half. However, the forward does not like to receive the ball and get involved in build-up deeper in the field.
The Nigerian averages 27.02 touches per 90 minutes. Of these, 17.9 touches come in the final third, and 7.77 in the opposition box (via fbref). He is also a high-volume shooter. With an average of 4.43 shots per 90 min, and 1.78 on target, Osimhen ranks 99th and 97th percentile respectively. He also has 4 assists from an xAG of 2.8.
This Goal by Victor Osimhen isn’t talked about enough🔥 pic.twitter.com/gSPkIcsQac
— Walter Odigie (@Odigie_Walter) June 29, 2023
In Manchester United’s 4-2-3-1 system, the striker would be well complemented by two wingers and a play-maker. This would allow the 24-year-old to focus his efforts mainly in the final third, as the rest of the team works to create chances for him.
With Luciano Spalletti’s unexpected departure from the club, United might just be able to prise away Victor Osimhen from Napoli, albeit at a high price. However, his age and immense talent could well justify the fee over the course of a few years.
Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos has also been on Manchester United’s radar. The Portuguese international announced himself on the big stage with a World Cup hattrick against Switzerland. He also netted 19 times and created 7 goals for the Portuguese club in 30 league games this season.
The Portuguese striker is arguably a more one-dimensional striker than United’s other options. He has scored 19 goals from an xG of 20.3, a small under-performance almost exactly as last season (via fbref). The 22-year-old also averages just 29.9 touches per 90 minutes, completing 12.78 passes. He is also an average dribbler, completing 0.75 out of an attempted 1.77 every 90 minutes.
Manchester United are desperate need of a striker ahead of the 2023-24 season and are reportedly willing to spend big on Goncalo Ramos. Benfica are usually hard to bargain with, and The Mirror claims that the Red Devils may need to splurge £100 million to complete the deal.
With the other options available in the market, such a fee seems hard to justify. However, Ten Hag has a proven track record of developing and improving youngsters. The Portuguese striker could benefit from playing under the Dutchman and become an integral part of United’s system for years to come.
Atalanta striker Rasmus Hojlund has 9 goals and 4 assists from 32 games in the Serie A this campaign. The Denmark international joined the Italian club from Austrian club Sturm Gaz only last season.
Hojlund might be one of the most affordable strikers being targeted by United. GOAL reports that the 20-year-old could be up for grabs for just £40 million. He also recently joined the SEG agency, the same company that represents Erik ten Hag.
In an interview with Danish outlet Berlingske, the Danish striker addressed the links to Old Trafford, saying:
“There has been no video call. I can’t say anything about that. It’s a huge club, so I must have done something right if it says they want me. My goal is to reach the top shelf, and you can say that Manchester United is. So it will be huge.”
Standing at 6’2, the Dane has always faced the inevitable comparison to Erling Haaland. He, too, is mostly involved closer to the opposition goal. He registers 21.5 of his 34.4 touches per 90 in the final third (via fbref). But he isn’t a very high-volume shooter, with just 2.65 attempts every 90 minutes.
Rasmus Hojlund also is solid on the ball, making 1.37 successful dribbles from 3.68 attempts every 90 minutes. He often receives the ball outside the box and tries to get into the most optimal position before taking a shot.
- Complete Analysis: Which Positions do Man United Require Reinforcements in and What are Best Options for Each Position?
- Manchester United to Hold Showdown Talks for €60m Rated England Star, Club Keen to Acquire Services
- Man United’s Loanee English Keeper Signs Deal to Move to Scottish Premiership Next Season
The Danish attacker represents another exciting project for the Red Devils to invest in. He would spare United ample funds to strengthen other positions too. The 20-year-old would be a great fit in Ten Hag’s system, and his all-round game under the Dutchman would also improve.
Who should Manchester United sign as their striker ahead of the 2023-24 season? Let us know in the comments.
Follow AD for the Latest Transfer Updates for Manchester United.