Manchester United fans would be forgiven for thinking that the transfer rumour mill has gone even more crazy than usual in the last couple of weeks as the club continues to be linked with virtually every forward under the sun.
After a barren spell for the pen pushers, we have seen stories emerge about Marko Arnautovic, Benjamin Sesko, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sasa Kalajdzic, Cody Gakpo, Alvaro Morata, Mauro Icardi and Matheus Cunha, amongst others.
What’s unusual about these rumours, however, is that most of them have come from pretty reliable sources – the likes of The Athletic’s David Ornstein and Laurie Whitwell or transfer gurus Gianluca Di Marzio and Fabrizio Romano.
So which are United going for, and why all the other names?
Perhaps what is going on behind the scenes is that the Red Devils are determined not to repeat the infamous “Ighalo Window” of 2020, which was probably the most blatant example of panic buying ever seen in football. Perhaps, what appears to us as frantic scrambling, is in fact United getting their ducks in a row.
What if these stars are Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and so on?
It seems unlikely that Marko Arnautovic, for example, was ever Plan A when the news broke that United had bid on him.
It may even have been that they leaked the story themselves to test the water as to the public reaction, quickly backing off when that reaction was overwhelmingly unfavourable.
Romano suggested that Morata was of more interest than Icardi, but reports yesterday suggested that Cunha was preferred to Morata. With Sesko now seemingly out of reach and Aubameyang not being pursued, that only leaves Gakpo (a winger rather than a striker) and Kalajdzic as “position unknown” in the pecking order.
A reasonable bet based on available evidence right now would be that Plan A could be Cunha, Plan B Gakpo, Plan C Kalajdzic, Plan D Morata and Plan E Icardi.
Unless, that is, that there are still other targets who John Murtough and co. are working on that the press haven’t got wind of yet.
This may of course be crediting United with too much sense, organisation and ambition. Perhaps they are not seriously working on any of these options and we will be left with no forward signings at all come September 1st, or a £50 million Troy Deeney. But we can hope, can’t we?