Prior to Thursday’s Europa League tie against Real Sociedad, the equation needed for United to directly make the Round of 16 was crystal clear.
The Red Devils needed to win by two clear goals to avoid the Round of 32 two-legged knockout tie against one of the Champions League dropouts.
It was not the result that Erik ten Hag would have liked but it did reinforce how important it was for the 20-time English champions to dip into the transfer market in January.
United travelled to Spain without the attacking trio of Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Antony. The only striking options at the Dutch manager’s disposal were Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford.
In the end, with United needing another goal, the former Ajax boss put on Harry Maguire as an auxiliary striker. The manager tried to use the defender’s superior heading ability to nick a goal but to no avail.
🚨 João Félix has been placed on the transfer market by Atlético Madrid.
Manchester United are one of the clubs interested but will not offer €125m as they did last summer.
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) November 3, 2022
It is clear that the Reds need a goalscorer and that was evident even before the Europa League encounter as in numerous matches, United have failed to score despite creating chances galore.
Rashford has been profligate, off-field issues have not helped matters with Ronaldo while Martial remains an ever-present figure in the injury department.
A ruthless finisher could change the whole dynamic of the current team and the manager will be hoping he can land one as soon as possible.
And according to a report published in Cadena Ser, Atletico Madrid will consider selling Joao Felix in the January transfer window as they look for money to balance their accounts.
The La Liga giants have just been dumped out of the Champions League which means a huge loss in revenue. Coupled with their plans to strengthen in the winter and for that to happen, they need to sell at least two high-value assets.
Felix the answer?
The Portuguese is their best bet due to the interest in the player from United. According to rumours, the English giants had offered €125 million in the summer, a sum they will not offer any more.
The chances of his imminent departure are highly likely due to the broken relationship between the striker and Atletico manager Diego Simeone.
The 22-year-old has started in only five La Liga games and three Champions League encounters and has not managed to impress the Argentine boss.
Felix could get a chance to resurrect his career at United and has time on his side to improve. With Ronaldo expected to leave soon, his Portugal teammate could be the one to come in.