Three bargain strikers Man Utd should consider when the transfer window reopens
It’s something of an open secret that Manchester United want to sign a striker when the transfer window reopens.
Several forwards have been linked with a switch to Old Trafford, the latest of which is Tottenham Hotspur star and England captain Harry Kane.
MEN Sport understands Spurs have no intention of selling their star man to United while United sources, although admirers of Kane, accept a switch is highly unlikely.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faith in Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to lead the United attack but is understandably keen to bolster his options.
If Rashford is to be the club’s first-choice striker, then what the Reds require is an effective and affordable alternative. A player who can step in when required or partner the 22-year-old academy graduate if Solskjaer deploys a front two.
So who could United turn to? Well, let’s start with the obvious…
When the Nigerian joined United on loan in January from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua it was viewed as a stop-gap deal.
With Rashford out injured, the Premier League giants required a striker to ease the load on Anthony Martial. Ighalo was to be that man until the end of the 2019/20 season.
Yet the 30-year-old’s impact at Old Trafford was beyond everyone’s expectations. He scored four goals in eight matches and his impressive cameo in the Manchester derby helped United complete a 2-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s side.
Before the campaign was halted, there were calls for United to make Ighalo’s move permanent this summer. They do not have an option to do so in his loan deal but it is thought around £15m would be enough for Shanghai Shenhua to part ways with the Nigeria international.
For United, even given the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, that fee is easily payable. The only question is whether there are better options on the market. Which brings us to our second potential option.
When the Belgian joined Napoli from PSV in 2013 for around £8.5m, few could have imagined he would go on to become the club’s joint all-time leading goalscorer.
That was partly because Mertens was already 26 years old but more because he was viewed as a creative winger. And yet over the last seven seasons he has blossomed into one of the finest and most consistent attackers in Serie A.
Mertens has scored 121 goals for Napoli, a club-record alongside Marek Hamsik. However, perhaps more impressive is that 87 of these have come in the last four seasons after he was moved into a central role by Maurizio Sarri.
The Belgium international has only improved with age but this summer he is set to leave Napoli at the expiration of his contract. Unsurprisingly, many of Europe’s top sides are interested.
Chelsea and Arsenal are in pursuit. Inter Milan, too. United have been linked in the past and if the club want a cost-effective yet elite-level recruit then Mertens should be top of their list.
He turns 33 years old in May yet this season, despite being used out wide for much of the campaign and Napoli struggling, is averaging 0.61 goal contributions per 90 for the Partenopei.
The Uruguayan striker has been one of the most consistent goalscorers in European football for the past decade.
Cavani has his detractors – many of whom believe he misses too many chances – but his record since joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2013 is almost unmatched: he has struck 200 goals in 300 games for the Parisians, becoming the club’s all-time highest scorer in the process.
Cavani hasn’t merely plundered goals against weaker Ligue 1 sides, either. He has 30 goals in Europe for the club in 54 matches, including strikes against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea in recent seasons.
But having fallen behind Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe this term, Cavani is expected to leave PSG when his contract expires at the end of the current campaign.
At 33 years old, interested clubs wouldn’t get too many years from the striker. And he will demand a hefty salary. But given he reportedly wants to remain in Europe until the 2022 World Cup, Cavani represents another opportunity for United to sign a proven goalscorer without having to pay a fee – although he wouldn’t fit Solskjaer’s ideal profile of player.