Ralf Rangnick’s admission that Manchester United will be in the hunt for a striker this summer signals the start of a media frenzy that will be unprecedented at the club this year.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference ahead of today’s Premier League match against Southampton, the interim manager was asked if the club would be signing a young striker in the summer and said:
‘This is obvious. Edinson’s [Cavani] contract is running out in the summer and the club needs the best possible centre forward. This is an obvious one. I think everyone is aware of that.’
Ralf Rangnick on signing a younger striker in the summer: “This is obvious. Edinson’s [Cavani] contract is running out in the summer and the club needs the best possible centre forward. This is an obvious one. I think everyone is aware of that.” #MUFC [MEN]
— mufcmpb (@mufcMPB) February 11, 2022
This means that the club will be seeking a new manager, new striker and new midfielder in the coming weeks, with the new manager also expected to have his say on the two (or more) new players.
United stayed idle in the January transfer window while the likes of Dusan Vlahovic and Julian Alvarez, two of the world’s top young striking talents, were snapped up by Juventus and Manchester City, respectively.
Juve also got defensive midfielder Denis Zakaria on a cut-price deal while United sat on their hands.
Reports suggested that the reason for the inactivity was due to the fact that the club wanted to wait until a permanent manager is appointed so that players are bought that are in line with his project.
This, in turn, means that reports about existing striker shortlists are likely to be inaccurate.
Although there is little doubt that Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, Spurs’ Harry Kane and Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez would be on any new manager’s wishlist, we can at this stage only speculate about who else might be pursued.
Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin has already been mooted and The BBC’s Simon Stone claims that Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak and Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick will be on the list, too.
Midfielders believed to be on the club’s shortlist include West Ham’s Declan Rice, RB Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara, Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara and Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham.
It all makes for one of the most exciting summers for many years, although many United fans will be preparing for frustration. They may be unable to imagine that the club’s controlling shareholders, the Glazer family, will come anywhere close to sanctioning the £300 million or so that would be needed to land a Haaland + Bellingham or Kane + Rice type of double swoop.
The situation will be further complicated if United do not finish in the top four this season, both in terms of lost revenue due to the absence from next year’s Champions League as well as the reluctance of top quality players to join a club that is not competing at the top level.
On the other hand, the Glazers have had summers where they have splashed the cash and they usually put money behind new managers. For example, in Louis van Gaal‘s first window in 2014, Angel di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Radamel Falcao were brought in.
That all added up to just under €200 million and so Rangnick’s comments, their previous patterns of behaviour and the obvious urgent need for reinforcements all indicate that serious money will be spent this summer.