According to Erik ten Hag, Manchester United are looking to sign an attacker in this window.
Speaking ahead of the preseason game against Liverpool, the new boss said that “in offence we are still looking for players.”
The specific profile of attacker, however, is a matter for debate.
While a right winger could boost squad depth, much is likely to depend on how the Cristiano Ronaldo situation develops.
The Portugal captain failed to report to Carrington for preseason and, while family issues have been cited as the official reason for his absence from United’s preseason tour, reports indicate that he sees his future away from Old Trafford.
His chances of securing a move away do not currently look too good, with many of Europe’s top clubs distancing themselves from a move.
Among them was FC Bayern Munich, for whom chief executive Oliver Kahn spoke in declaring that Ronaldo “would not fit into our philosophy.”
Both Atletico and Real Madrid have also turned him down, while the player himself seems to have distanced himself from a return to Sporting Lisbon.
But as his options narrow and his standing among his current teammates further diminishes, it is very possible that last season’s marquee signing finds a club willing to meet some kind of compromise over his salary and competitive demands.
While Anthony Martial has put in three stellar performances in as many preseason games, it would be incredibly short-sighted to go into the new season with only one recognised centre forward.
Indeed, Hannibal Mejbri and Amad have each understandably failed to impress in their out-of-position cameos when the Frenchman has been withdrawn.
But with Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski, Darwin Nunez, Sebastien Haller, Karim Adeyemi, Richarlison and Paulo Dybala among the forwards to have already made moves this summer, United look more than a little late to the striker market.
One striker yet to make a move is Amine Gouiri.
Linked with Newcastle United, OGC Nice do not want to part with the 21-year-old and have reportedly priced him at £50m to discourage bidders.
In the long run that fee could prove a bargain for United, as Gouiri could grow into a fine player at Old Trafford.
Despite being a composed finisher, netting 12 goals last season, he is the very antithesis of Ronaldo.
Gouiri is first and foremost a team player who would suit Ten Hag’s possession style of football down to a tee.
Last season he averaged 50.5 touches per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 which is a level of involvement in possession that neither Ronaldo nor Martial during his best season at United (2019/2020) can boast.
Those touches were not frivolous, with Gouiri completing 2.1 take-ons per game – almost triple what United’s number seven managed last season.
With 2.6 ball recoveries per game, he is also a willing runner who would contribute to the counterpressing that has been a key feature of Ten Hag’s early outings with the club.
But chief among his attributes is his passing ability.
The French wonderkid provided nine assists in France’s top tier last season as a direct result of being in the 95th percentile for shot-creating actions across all forwards in Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues.
While reports indicate that Manchester United are keen to trigger an option to extend Ronaldo’s contract for a further year to ward off any potential interest, it is hard to see this world as one in which the superstar does not get what he wants.
Should his desires come to fruition, United could do a lot worse than sign the man dubbed ‘the new Karim Benzema.’
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