Home » The case for Youssoufa Moukoko becoming Manchester United’s centre forward

The case for Youssoufa Moukoko becoming Manchester United’s centre forward

by Seth Dooley

Another game, another lacklustre attacking output.

Manchester United’s defeat by Aston Villa once again highlighted the urgent requirement for reinforcements up top.

The strange tactic to constantly seek Cristiano Ronaldo with easily-defendable crosses acted as a searing indictment on the team’s uninspired shot and chance creation abilities.

Erik ten Hag immediately scorned this choice of resorting to crosses, clearly signifying that this tactic does not align with his desired style of play.

Antony is an example of what Ten Hag sought from his front line: direct, dynamic, ruthless.

With a limited (zero) budget, the United hierarchy would have to search the transfer market for a wise-buy if they want to present Ten Hag with a quick remedy for his side’s attacking problems in January. Having already analysed Terem Moffi of Ligue 1 outfit Lorient and LOSC Lille’s Jonathan David, it is time to discuss a young striker in the Bundesliga.

Borussia Dortmund’s young talent factory has become renowned as a result of the players’ continued success post-Germany. Erling Haaland being the latest example.

His replacement at Dortmund could also be a continuation of this record. Youssoufa Moukoko, at 17 years of age, is leading the line for the German giants.

Entrusted with the keys to Haaland’s vacated city, it is remarkable and telling that Moukoko has locked down the centre forward area of the pitch for one of Europe’s biggest clubs at such a young age.

And the Dortmund chiefs were right to do so – as they so often have been in their loyalty to progressing youth. Moukoko has scored six goals and notched four assists in the Bundesliga so far this season. He has started six games.

With 12 appearances in total when including substitute minutes, Moukoko is currently averaging a goal contribution every 59 minutes in his domestic league. His form has led to calls for him to be involved in Qatar. Bild commentator Corni Küpper stated during Dortmund’s 3-0 victory against Werder Bremen – in which the 17-year-old scored a brace – that: “Hansi Flick has to take Moukoko to the World Cup.”

For many, this instant impact is not a surprise. Between 2017 – 2020, Moukoko scored a frightening 141 goals in 88 games for Dortmund’s youth sides. This led to former coach Lucien Favre calling the Cameroon-born forward up to first team training at just 15 years old.

Such promise was shown during these training sessions that Haaland stated: “Moukoko is much better than I was at his age.”

With a contract expiring in June 2023, United should be presented with the opportunity to have a go at convincing Moukoko that his future lies in fresher pastures. If successful, Dortmund would likely accept an inexpensive proposal in January to prevent the striker from leaving as a free agent in the summer or United could agree to a deal which would see Moukoko join the club upon his contract expiry.

In keeping with more reports that United do not intend on entering into any deals during the upcoming transfer window, Moukoko’s contract situation opens a door that could facilitate a shrewd signing in January or the summer.

The striker would offer United a lot up front. His involvement in build-up play and initialising clinical final third acts is already at an elite level. Moukoko averages 0.57 goal-creating-actions per 90 minutes, placing him in the top 92nd percentile amongst fellow European strikers.

This direct and ruthless quality marks Moukoko as a no. 9 who is destined to be one of Europe’s best. His confidence and willingness to take on defenders is commendable too. He averages 3.16 dribbles per match. This keenness to progress the ball dangerously towards the opponents’ goal is at loggerheads with United’s forward line options of Cristiano Ronaldo and – rather concerningly – Jadon Sancho.

Moukoko helps out his team in other vital areas. Much to Ten Hag’s liking, the striker tackles 0.89 times per 90, placing him in the 75th percentile. This defending from the front philosophy is intrinsic to Ten Hag’s ideals. And at 17 years old, Moukoko will naturally become more attuned to defenders’ frailties and tells.

At such a young age, Moukoko will be difficult to sign due to growing interest in his fantastic season at Dortmund. The youngster has had to mature quickly as well. This is the result of receiving terrible abuse from opponents and fans during youth matches. Michael Feichtenbeiner, Germany’s former under-16s coach, said that Moukoko was “challenged mentally early on”. And he has used this challenge to grow and become a young striker intent on being a top centre forward, capable of overcoming whatever difficulties lie in his way.

With such great potential – and already great performances and output – Moukoko must be a name that Ten Hag has highlighted, and must be a name that John Murtough is also circling due to the chance to sign him for free. Moukoko could supplement United’s forward line well and add much needed clinical goal-creation up front.

It may take an arduous effort to sign the striker, but the club should enter the race for one of Europe’s hottest prospects.

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