Outright Odds

Man Utd transfer news: Should Erik ten Hag sign Wout Weghorst?

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 10:10, 12 January 2023

The January transfer window is usually a quiet one for a lot of teams, but Manchester United are expected to be busy.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo all but guaranteed that Man Utd would dip into the winter transfer market for a striker. Erik ten Hag’s side have struggled to find the net on a regular basis so far this season, scoring 27 goals in their 17 Premier League matches – with only Chelsea (20) scoring fewer in the top half of the table).

Post-World Cup, Marcus Rashford has certainly picked up the slack, now on seven Premier League goals for the season with three in his past three, but leading man Anthony Martial has just the one. So Man Utd are in the market for a striker, and according to reports Wout Weghorst appears to be the first name on their target list with a deal in principle agreed.

Although Weghorst has been playing his club football in Turkey with Besiktas this season, netting eight goals in 16 Super Lig matches, he is only on loan and still contracted to Burnley – who he joined last January from Wolfsburg.

So to make the deal happen, Man Utd have had to negotiate with Burnley, Besiktas and Weghorst to try and get their man. While the Turkish Super Lig isn’t exactly an obscure division, Weghorst had been away from the limelight this season before returning with a bang at the World Cup.

Part of Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands squad, Weghorst came on as a substitute in their World Cup quarter-final against Argentina with 12 minutes left to play and the Oranje 2-0 down on their way out of the tournament. After five minutes, Weghorst had pulled one back for Netherlands with a header and then in the 11th minute of injury time he scored the equaliser, finishing coolly after an inventive free-kick from Teun Koopmeiners at such a crucial time.

Netherlands may still have gone on to lose the game to the eventual champions on penalties, but the World Cup reminded everyone of what Weghorst can do. However, former Netherlands midfielder and eternal Man Utd target Wesley Sneijder is not convinced about Weghorst’s potential move to Old Trafford.

Sneijder told Voetbal Primeur: “I think they’ve seen the trick with the free kick, so they don’t fall for that in England anymore.

“In terms of striker, is he really someone United are waiting for?

“I don’t think so. They still have 300 of those in the Premier League. It must be a stunt. This really can’t be true.”

In 20 Premier League appearances for Burnley in the second half of the 2021/22 campaign, Weghorst scored two goals from 30 shots – nine of which hit the target. However, he did also record three assists and won 55 aerial duels, with only five players winning more between his debut and the end of the campaign.

The question then remains, if Weghorst isn’t the man as Sneijder believes, who can Man Utd bring in?

As we’ve seen down the years, it’s not always straightforward bringing in a marquee name during the January window. But with that being said, it can be done, and Man Utd are living proof. Louis Saha and Andy Cole were recruited in that month (Alexis Sanchez too) while Bruno Fernandes proved to be a game-changer when he eventually joined. Further back Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra ended up as great astute signings even if their United journey started rough.

If you look at the players Man Utd are being linked with as a whole, it’s clear that attacking players are their main priority.

The man with the shortest odds to join Man Utd in the January transfer window (excluding Weghorst) is Goncalo Ramos, who did a fine job replacing Ronaldo at the World Cup. In Portugal’s last 16 meeting with Switzerland, with Ronaldo dropped, Ramos scored the competition’s only hat-trick and is also enjoying a prolific domestic campaign.

“We will do everything in our power [to sign the right player],” he said. “I cannot give comments on specific players. I will never do that. Players have contracts and I respect that. We are doing research on every opportunity and we do everything we can if that opportunity is there to contract them.”

The other, Goncalo Ramos, infamously replaced Ronaldo in Portugal’s last-16 meeting against Switzerland where he bagged the competition’s only hat trick. Ramos is also enjoying a prolific domestic campaign. In just 13 Primeira Liga appearances this season, Ramos has scored nine goals, and is the league’s joint-top scorer alongside Mehdi Taremi, but has played 300 fewer minutes than his Porto rival.

Another forward being linked, and another Dutchman, is Memphis Depay. The 28-year-old did not enjoy his first stay at Man Utd but is a completely new man and player, and isn’t expected to stay at Barcelona to play second fiddle to Robert Lewandowski.

“They should be going for Depay. Depay is a miles better player then Wehorst. There should not be a choice. Depay would be a brilliant signing for Man United,” former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson told Football Insider.

“I’m sure the fans would rather have Depay back because it is a different Depay to the one that left.”

But striker is not the only position Man Utd need to strengthen in, they are still looking threadbare of quality in depth for midfield. So it’s no surprise to see Moises Caicedo high up on the list of favourites, having also been linked with a move to Chelsea..

In the Premier League this season, Caicedo has made 47 tackles — the fifth-most in the division — won possession in the middle third 51 times and 41 times in the defensive third, while still creating 18 chances with a pass accuracy of 87.74%.