Iran may have been rolled over by England during the Qatar World Cup’s Group B opener, but Mehdi Taremi put forward a good case for being a smart piece of business for Manchester United in January.
For over an hour the striker saw roughly none of the ball as a brilliant Three Lions showing introduced Gareth Southgate’s side to Qatar.
Indeed, by the time the 65th minute came around Iran had seen just 22% of possession.
But one single sniff at goal was all that Taremi needed as he seized upon a chance to outfox the England defence with a blindside run before smashing an unsaveable finish into the roof of the net.
And this was by no means out of character for the Iranian, who has been in fantastic form for his club side FC Porto.
He has been at the forefront of the Liga Portugal side’s sensational Champions League campaign this season, scoring five goals and laying on two assists in five outings.
At 187cm, Taremi cuts the figure of a true number nine, capable with his back to goal and lethal in the penalty area. Those who remember his stunning bicycle kick against Chelsea in the 2021 Champions League quarterfinals can attest to the fact that this man can score pretty much any kind of goal.
But he combines that with a canny creative mind. In the Champions League Group Stages he made 13 key passes, including a remarkable five away to favourites Atletico Madrid. (Whoscored)
His ability to juggle his responsibilities as both goalscorer and provider is seen in Porto’s league campaign as well. He currently has six goals and five assists in 13 matches – essentially a goal involvement every game.
In that respect, Taremi looks a lot like a budget Harry Kane, and since United have long been admirers of the Tottenham Hotspur man, interest from the Red Devils could make a lot of sense.
At 30 years of age, Taremi has had a long road to the top, only moving to Europe in 2019 when he signed for Rio Ave in Portugal.
It took just one year for Porto to snap him up and they have certainly reaped the rewards, with the number nine scoring 62 goals and providing 43 assists across 115 matches for the Dragons.
With Cristiano Ronaldo on his way out and United thin on options in attack, Taremi is a player who would likely make an immediate impact to Erik ten Hag’s squad. The Red Devils lack a player of his profile and would benefit from a goalscorer who thrives bringing others into play.
But why would Porto let go of a player so crucial to their team, particularly midseason?
Well, as mentioned, the Iranian forward is 30 years old, and Porto are known to look for profit whenever they can get it. And at such an age Taremi is unlikely to have another chance at a Premier League move, which could convince him to swap Porto’s Champions League campaign for a chance at leading the line at the Theatre of Dreams.
By the time January comes around, Taremi will only have 18 months remaining on his contract. That will certainly have an impact on the sort of fee Porto are able to demand and it is hard to see him going for much more than €20m.
That figure would still see Porto quadruple their money, having signed the striker for less than €5m just two and a half years ago. Financially, the deal could make sense for both clubs.
As for Taremi, the striker has reportedly had his representatives tell Porto that he is considering a change of scenery at the start of the year.
According to The Sun, Arsenal are in the picture, but given they would be offering a role as deputy to Gabriel Jesus, they may not present an ideal option to a forward on top of his game.
Manchester United could offer the opportunity to take advantage of a void in their squad. Anthony Martial will likely be the only striker available to Ten Hag come January, and since the Frenchman is perennially injured, Taremi would certainly fancy his chances of becoming a Premier League household name within weeks.
He certainly has the confidence, as he demonstrated with his cool penalty to offer consolation to Iranian fans against England. Two goals today leaves Taremi with 13 goals and 7 assists in 19 matches this season.
This could be exactly the signing Manchester United need to make their attack click.