Home » The case for Terem Moffi becoming Manchester United’s centre forward

The case for Terem Moffi becoming Manchester United’s centre forward

by Seth Dooley

After every match this season, the need for Manchester United to sign a striker is becoming more urgent.

Marcus Rashford has been leading the line – somewhat unsuitably given his past flourish as an inside left forward – and his performances (and lack of goals) against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea begged the question as to whether he could be a profitable number nine for United.

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to be heading out of the door imminently. Anthony Martial’s injury and goalscoring record are both unreliable. A reinforcement is needed – preferably in January.

Although John Murtough signalled that there will not be any major movement in the winter transfer window, there are some budget buys available which would help the manic debt-increaser owners.

The Peoples Person has previously looked at the superb young Canadian striker Jonathan David of LOSC Lille, and another striker in Ligue 1 is the subject on this occasion.

Terem Moffi sits one goal behind David and two behind Kylian Mbappé in the top scorers table this season with eight goals to his name.

Playing for a team in stellar form, Lorient has provided Moffi with the platform to be a talisman in one of Europe’s top leagues. They signed the Nigerian from Kortrijk for €8 million three years ago.

Having played 11 games so far in the League this season, Moffi is currently hitting an average 0.88 goal contribution per 90 minutes. What’s more, is that he scored his eight goals this season from an xG of six. The overperforming end product shows his supreme finishing.

Moffi’s goals have all been diverse in nature. He scored a Ruud van Nistelrooy-esque half volley at an unfavourable angle recently against Stade Brestois. Making a run in behind between the centre back and left back, Moffi collected a lofted pass – making sure to position his body between the defender and ball – and smashed it into the opposite corner.

In the same match, the 23-year-old showed his varied skills as a forward. Not only can he score the spectacular, technically supreme goal, but he also proved his basic yet vital instinct in the opposition’s box.

As Lorient worked the ball nicely into the Brestois’ penalty area, Moffi lurked behind a defender as his teammate had an attempt on goal. The shot was saved, only for the ball to be parried into the space close to where Moffi was occupying. And how he pounced. Racing ahead of the defender, the determined striker slotted in his second of the afternoon.

Moffi is starting to master the perfect balance between Chicharito-style poaching and Nani-type stunners. This unpredictable quality and ability to adapt finishing techniques is what defines a great striker. He has scored by audaciously chipping the goalkeeper and simply making a run to the front post to tap the ball into the net this year.

Furthermore, it is not as if Moffi is attempting ludicrous efforts to up his goalscoring output. The Nigerian is clinical, confident, and clever in his shot-selection. He currently holds a 35% conversion rate.

What has been noticeably different this season compared to others is Moffi’s overall development and growth as a dynamic centre forward.

Each season at Lorient, his passing accuracy has increased. This season, his short passing has a remarkable 87% success rate. Such crisp, wise, and contained passing from a striker would appease Erik ten Hag’s style of fluid and sharp attacking play.

In keeping with Ten Hag’s desire for a multi-functional forward line, Moffi has joined Lorient’s impressive build up play this season. He has touched the ball 140 times in the middle third of the pitch and 104 times in the attacking third. Such dynamism would present the opportunity for quicker transitional play in United’s side.

Regarding defensive actions, Moffi has tallied 98 pressures on opposition players, only 4 behind Marcus Rashford – who has been praised for his efforts in closing down defenders this season. With this pressing, however, comes a formidable athlete: Moffi is the second fastest player in Ligue 1 (Mbappé is in first place.)

Still only 23 years old, Moffi has shown his ability to develop throughout his short career and consequently indicated that his ceiling could keep being raised under the watchful eye of Ten Hag and his coaching staff. He has already become one of the best strikers in France. Equipped with the ability to produce diverse and confident finishes, the Nigerian has become a lethal operator who loves being directly in front of goal.

Moreover, his contract is set to expire at the end of next season (June 2024). In combination with a current value of €12 million, Murtough and Richard Arnold should be able to juggle around finances to facilitate such a transfer and appease Glazernomics.

Moffi’s determined body language, pace, and instinct would suggest that he could be an ideal fit for Erik ten Hag’s system and United’s striker-lacking attack.

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