It’s more than just agreeable that Manchester United are a top club but it wouldn’t be completely agreeable to say we have to splash the cash on every player we target, merely due to who we are. Practically speaking, it is next to impossible for a team to spend a world record transfer fee every summer, be it Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Barcelona.
And as Man United continue to get linked to strikers like Alvaro Morata and Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, it seems like a matter of time before Jose Mourinho ends up signing a quality striker. To traditionalists like me, spending over £100 million on a single player gives out the unbearable vibe of seeing the club lose it’s identity and get guzzled up in a quagmire that has already engulfed clubs like Manchester City and the Los Blancos. It gives a feeling of having become just another big club that takes pride in flashing the vault and luring players with it, rather than boasting about a certain number of youngsters in the side.
While, this was the kind of a club that United were before Sir Alex Ferguson bid adieu back in 2013, but signing lesser known players for a smaller fee and bringing the best out of them is the closest that the Reds can get to the traditional ways. And with the summer transfer window fast approaching and the Red Devils in need of a striker, we look at slightly lesser known strikers that Mourinho can look at.
Kasper Dolberg- Ajax
Kylian Mbappe may have stolen all the headlines while playing in a side that has overseen the emergence of a host of players in a single season, Dolberg plays for a club that has players who haven’t enjoyed a breakout. But thanks to 19-year-old Dolberg’s rise to prominence, the young Dane has scored as many league goals as Mbappe – 14.
A near complete striker who is just as good off the ball as he is on the ball, Dolberg settled effortlessly into an Ajax side that was expected to undergo a transition following the exits of Frank de Boer and Arek Milik to the Serie A. He has smoothened the transition well, helping them to the Europa League final and guiding them to second in the Eredivisie.
Ajax are known to let go of their prized assets for a considerably cheap fee (take Christian Eriksen and Daley Blind as examples) and the youngster would not cost the Reds too much. Dolberg has drawn links with United already, but has played down a possible move by saying that it’s ‘too big a step’ for him at this point in his career. A small fee though, won’t put too much pressure on him and rotation with our very own Marcus Rashford would do no harm in developing him. Five years later, United may well have another world-class striker on the plate.
Steve Mounie – Montpellier
This 22-year-old may well be the least known commodity in this list but he has scored only a single goal less than Mbappe.
There have been innumerable instances when United have missed a lot of chances in front of goal, costing us vital points throughout the season. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan maybe very good players, but one can accuse them of having this tendency of always trying to pass the ball into the net, rather than coming up with a no-nonsense finish. But Mounie bring just that – ruthlessness in front of goal and an unerring ability to head the ball home.
Montpellier’s direct approach to scoring has worked to his strengths and the Beninese forward has won as many as 8.8 aerial duels per game this season. It is certainly an outrageous stat but Mounie offers his side a direct outlet to score and Mourinho is someone who has always had a liking for no-nonsense and pragmatic goalscorers like him, be it Didier Drogba or Diego Costa.
Bringing him in will make sure that United have a beast in their side who can score and will complement the development of both Rashford and Martial by acting as an effective plan B. And guess what? He’s got a mean strike too.
Sandro Wagner – Hoffenheim
For those who have begun to admire the achievements of Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim, you have to admit that the system is incomplete without the presence of this man up front.
Wagner arrived at Hoffenheim for a peanuts fee from Darmstadt but has proved that the €2.8 million fee is too less for someone as committed a battler as him. The big German scored 12 times in all competitions for Hoffenheim, who finished fourth this season, and has been his side’s highest goal-getter too.
He isn’t someone who likes to dribble or go past defenders, but is a grafter who thrives on working hard and winning the ball back, launching counter-attacks and scoring regularly. Even when he’s not scoring, he makes sure that he gives his all for the team and it’s an ability that has made him an important part of Nagelsmann’s high-pressing style.
Currently 29, Wagner isn’t one of those flashy strikers who stand up there and stake claim to a spot for just scoring. His hungry approach to the game and the ability to never stay still could propel United in working harder in games, when things aren’t going their way. His age would make him a cheap acquisition and his skill-set would add a lot too.
Moussa Dembele – Celtic
There’s hardly any shortage of Dembele’s these days but the French Dembele is known for something the other Dembele’s aren’t- goalscoring. And that’s what he has done at Celtic throughout the season having arrived from Fulham last summer.
The 20-year-old played a vital role in helping Celtic stroll to the Scottish League title, scoring 30 times in 35 starts for Brendan Rodgers’ men this season. It’s his eye for goal that makes him a real threat and his tally certainly proves that.
He is currently plying his trade in a nation that has lost the spark and quality but his record in the Championship during his Fulham is commendable too. The former Paris Saint-Germain man scored 17 times in all competitions for the Craven Cottage based outfit, attracting interest from Tottenham. And if not for a late mess-up, Moussa could have been Spurs’ second Dembele in the side.
The youngster has attracted interest from a lot of clubs, including Chelsea, former club PSG and Spurs again and is very likely to play for a big club in the future. United would like to lay their hands on someone who has proved himself in England and could form a devastating pairing with either Rashford or Martial up front, making the United attack a force.