Back in July, when asked about the likely departure of Romelu Lukaku and what Manchester United planned to do going forward, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replied: “If we sell players we will have to replace them.”
Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were allowed to leave the club, but the only attacking player to come in their place was Daniel James, a young winger who had just enjoyed his first season in the Championship.
Given that United had failed to replace either midfielder who had left earlier that year, with Ander Herrera and Maroaune Fellaini vacating what was already a weak midfield, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the Glazers failed to sanction the funds for the attack.
There had been one striker in particular that Solskjaer had been keen to sign, with it rumoured that the manager had phoned Mario Mandzukic to try and encourage the transfer, but nothing came of it.
Ahead of United’s 1-1 drew with Arsenal on Monday night, Solskjaer admitted that the club were in need of bolstering the attack.
“Of course, when we let Alexis and Lukaku go, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know it’s a forward we’re going to try to recruit next time,” he said. “We’re looking for some creativity and goals, but they have to be the right one. There were strikers available but not the ones we wanted. We couldn’t get the one we wanted.”
With the January transfer three months away, and United averaging just over a goal a game in the Premier League so far this season, the desperation for a new striker is apparent. But who could United realistically bring in to boost the forward line?
The 33-year-old Croatian was told he could leave Juventus in the summer and reportedly turned down a deal worth £7 million to join the Qatari league, as well as advances from PSG, with him keen to sign for United.
Mandzukic is yet to play for Maurizio Sarri this season and wasn’t included in their Champions League squad.
It bodes well for Solskjaer that he’s not just in it for the money and still believes he has something to offer a club in one of the top leagues. Having scored nine goals in 25 appearances in Serie A last season, he may be able to help contribute to United’s attack.
But he hasn’t been a prolific scorer since, arguably, his Bayern Munich days, and age isn’t on his side. He could provide United with some much needed experience but if Solskjaer wants a goal machine, the Croatian doesn’t tick all the boxes.
The former Fulham and Celtic striker has caught the attention of United scouts this season, according to reports, with rumours linking the Frenchman with a move to Old Trafford since the summer.
Dembele has scored six goals in seven league appearances for Lyon this season, as the 23-year-old looks to be on the way to realising his early potential. With over three years remaining on his current deal though, and if he maintains this scoring form until January, United may well struggle to prise him away from Ligue 1 unless they’re prepared to pay a huge fee.
Moussa Dembele | Solskjaer takes early steps for Man United to sign Lyon star – working via intermediaries to find out about player’s attitude, good reports back.
— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) May 3, 2019
Liverpool and Bayern Munich were among the clubs linked with the RB Leipzig striker in the summer, with Jurgen Klopp a long-time admirer.
Werner has previously claimed that he would like to sign for United and watched them a lot when he was growing up. He was reluctant to extend his contract with the German club last season, but in the summer, with just a year remaining on his deal, he signed a new contract that reportedly included a release clause of less than £30 million.
The German striker has scored seven goals in eight appearances in all competitions this season and, at 23-years-old, would certainly meet Solskjaer’s preference for young and hungry players.
Bayern would likely be the favourites to sign him next summer but if United met the asking price in January and offered better terms than the German club, then he could be tempted to make the move to the Premier League.