Football Features

Harry Kane regen and other centre-forward signings to launch the Sir Jim Ratcliffe era at Man Utd

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 11:30, 13 April 2024

We’ve found the perfect signings to launch the new era at Manchester United.

According to Standard Sport, Sir Jim Ratcliffe has highlighted four areas that need investment: centre-back, right-back, No.8 and centre-forward, also identifying Michael Olise as a marquee target.

Erik Ten Hag himself admitted a new striker ‘would help’ during a recent press conference, adding: “You need more options. You need double positioning in every position.

“Some positions we didn’t have the choices this season — the striker position, the left-back position — and that has a negative impact on the results.”

Ten Hag feels like he planned well for this season, but the underperformance of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial’s injury problems have left him a little high and dry when it comes to regular sources of goals.

“In this plan we constructed we should have had enough goals,” Ten Hag said. “You count on goals from Rashford – last season he scored 30. You count on goals from Martial – in my first season he played very well, and also in very important games he had a high impact on our performances. And then bringing a goalscorer like Rasmus Hojlund in, it should have been enough goals.”

So, we built statistical profiles to identify Dream, Realistic and Wildcard options for a summer transfer shortlist and a Squawka Suggestion based on stats.

As follows are the centre-forward transfer options Man Utd should consider:

Signing Rasmus Højlund was not a mistake. The issue was failing to sign a centre-forward to share minutes and knowledge with the Dane. Bayern Munich have the blueprint United must follow. The Bavarians signed Harry Kane to shoulder the goalscoring burden at an elite club, allowing French sensation Mathys Tel to flourish free from the pressure. So, who can United sign to mimic Kane’s profile and the Master and Apprentice dynamic?

Viktor Gyökeres is not just the dream signing for United; he might be the dream centre-forward for every European club. Like Kane, the Swede can do everything from goalscoring to playmaking, from dribbling to pressing. The radar below says it all.

He’s also no stranger to English football, having previously turned out for Coventry City, where, during their Championship play-off final run, his goal celebration became famous and led to comparisons — at least stylistically – with Kane, who is now re-writing all kinds of Bundesliga records.

The 25-year-old Swedish marksman — once on the books of Brighton and Swansea — has already bagged 36 goals across 43 appearances in all competitions for Sporting CP this season. According to Fabrizio Romano, Gyökeres’ deal with the Lisbon-based club includes a €100m (£86m) release clause.

But if United fail to qualify for the Champions League, Gyökeres is likely to be signed by a rival, with the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea linked with him.

A more realistic option is Jonathan David. The Canada international is the youngest player on our shortlist but has plenty of top-flight minutes. After consistently scoring for Lille in Ligue 1, he will enter the final year of his contract this summer.

David, who has been associated with a move to Man Utd in the past, is enjoying another productive Ligue 1 campaign, having bagged 16 goals across 28 appearances. Only the mercurial Kylian Mbappe (24), who will soon be exiting France’s top division, has been more lethal in front of goal than him. And that record also extends to 23 goals in 40 appearances across all competitions.

You might expect to see Evan Ferguson if we told you that a Brighton striker was the wildcard signing. But he’s not the pick. Deniz Undav is. The German has been a consistent scorer throughout his career — don’t forget he averaged 0.73 goals per 90 minutes as an impact sub for the Seagulls. At Stuttgart, he has established himself as one of the best forwards in Europe based on the Squawka Striker Score.

The Squawka Suggestion is Harry Kane 2.0. Ivan Toney is a complete centre-forward who can dominate opponents physically and embarrass them technically. An ice-cool finisher and elite ball striker, Toney’s self-confidence and mentality suggest he would thrive under the pressure of being the Man Utd No.9.