Erik ten Hag talks about the striker Man United plans to sign in January.
Erik ten Hag discusses Man United’s plans to sign striker in January.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has emphasized the significance of adding a new striker during the forthcoming January transfer window in light of Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent departure.
Following the explosive interview he gave to TalkTV in November, Ronaldo quit Old Trafford with immediate effect. By stating he has no respect for the Dutch coach, Ronaldo damaged his relationship with Ten Hag in ways that cannot be undone.
Despite having plenty of wide forwards thanks to substantial investments in Jadon Sancho and Antony from 2021, Ronaldo and Anthony Martial were the only two players in the squad with a recognizable “number nine” position after Edinson Cavani left for Argentina in the summer. Since Romelu Lukaku in 2017, United hasn’t spent money to bring in a centre striker on a permanent move (apart from Ronaldo).
The situation has only become more urgent since Ronaldo walked away last month.
Cody Gakpo, a player who can play both on the left and in the centre, has long been coveted by United, but Liverpool acted quickly to secure a contract at an initial £37 million.
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Although the former Ajax manager is sure that United still have the ability to develop talented young forwards of their own, Ten Hag is not deluding himself into thinking that it is sufficient. However, it goes without saying that any player chosen to fill the role of “number nine” must be the appropriate one.
“Two things,” he said ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Nottingham Forest. “Impulse can come out of our own club, see [Alejandro] Garnacho, see [Anthony] Elanga, see [Facundo] Pellistri, who made a good impression at the World Cup and also in training. That is first.
“Second, yes, we are aware we lost a striker, so I think we have to get a striker in, but it has to be the right one. The right one is a player that brings quality to the team, not just adding to the squad because that only gives you problems. You know the criteria is high here at Manchester United.”
The aforementioned Martial has had a stop-start seven years at Old Trafford. The Frenchman looked like he had finally cracked it in 2019/20 when he scored 23 goals in all competitions. But his form later deserted him and fitness troubles have also taken a toll on his numbers.
Ten Hag has spoken positively about Martial, who was loaned to Sevilla last season.
“In my way of playing I like the type [of player] Antony Martial is, because he can hold the ball. ‘He is a [also] a target, he can link up, but he can also run behind. He has speed, he can finish, and he has good pressure [presses well],” the United manager explained in November.