Randal Kolo Muani has experienced a rapid ascension to the upper echelons of European football over the past twenty-four months. Having departed Nantes on a free transfer in 2021, the Eintracht Frankfurt forward is being talked about as a potential €100 million signing a mere two years later.
With so many of Europe’s biggest clubs in the hunt for a centre-forward, Kolo Muani is a name at the top of many transfer lists following an impressive season in Germany.
21 goals and 14 assists in all competitions for Frankfurt provides a simple explanation for the interest Kolo Muani holds, but it is his versatility and general play which are the fundamentals driving his price.
A menace with the ball at his feet, with strong dribbling and ball progression stats, Kolo Muani is also an excellent presser off-the-ball who helps his team defend from the front. Standing at an imposing frame of 187cm, combined with strength, speed and explosiveness, the Frenchman possesses the physique and skillset of a modern forward.
The Athletic have reported officials at Eintracht Frankfurt wish to keep Kolo Muani for another season, enabling him to further hone his skills in a less pressured environment. They believe he is one more year of development away from being capable of playing ‘for any club in the world.’
Sport BILD (translated via SportWitness) believe, however, it is ‘extremely unlikely’ the forward will remain in Frankfurt beyond the summer, such is the credible level of interest.
Bayern were strongly linked with the Frenchman at the start of the summer, while Real Madrid have been recently mooted as a credible option in the wake of Benzema’s sudden relocation to Saudi Arabia. Over the past week, however, Manchester United have emerged as potential suitor, with good reason.
Erik Ten Hag has made no secret of his desire for a new centre-forward. Harry Kane is the undoubted number one option for the position, with the English captain said to be open to a move to Old Trafford, as it enables him to continue his unrelenting pursuit of Alan Shearer’s Premier League goal record.
Dealing with Daniel Levy, however, is like trying to draw blood from a stone. Tottenham’s chairman will reportedly only consider selling Kane abroad this summer – not to an English rival (The Evening Standard), preferring to risk losing him on a free next year.
Kane represents the perfect fit for Manchester United. Premier League proven beyond doubt; a player capable of both scoring in abundance, as well as providing for others; a forward who is comfortable in a team set up to dominate possession or hit on the counter; a leader with an impeccable attitude – Kane ticks a lot of boxes for a United team in need of goals and leadership. The one box he does not seemingly tick is availability.
As such, the hierarchy at Old Trafford will need to make a decision. With Kane available on a free next summer, what is the short-term plan for the centre-forward position? If Ten Hag is forced to endure another year reliant upon Anthony Martial and Wout Weghorst as his striking options, United’s progress this season may be undone. Champions League football and a Carabao Cup were achieved without a competent striker – what could be achieved with one?
A forward must be purchased if the team is to continue to be moulded in the Dutch manager’s image.
Kolo Muani may, therefore, constitute the best option this summer. While the scarcity of viable alternatives has undoubtedly created an inflated transfer market for centre-forwards, with players such as Rasmus Højlund being touted in the €100 million range (despite 10 goals in all competitions last summer for Atalanta), Kolo Muani offers a reasonable compromise for Ten Hag.
If the long-term plan is to pursue Kane on a free in 2024, Kolo Muani represents an option capable of fulfilling one role next season, and then another in the seasons beyond. His aforementioned versatility ensures the French forward is as comfortable drifting out wide as he is leading the line. He is a player who would be compatible with Harry Kane, rather than merely instead of. Other strikers, such as Højlund or Gonçalo Ramos, are classic number nines who could not function in the same team as the English striker. Kolo Muani could, and it’s this capability which justifies what appears an exorbitant price.
A carefully planned transition, over the space of twelve months and €100 million in transfer fees, from Martial and Weghorst to Kolo Muani and Kane would convert Manchester United’s fundamental weakness into a position of almost unrivalled strength. It would be money well spent.