Manchester United are in the market for a centre-forward this summer, with Erik ten Hag viewing the addition of a recognised goalscorer as the next step towards a title-winning team.
From experienced options to emerging talent across the continent, there’s been no shortage of speculation linking the Red Devils with forwards in recent months. As the summer approaches the rumours will only increase and we’ve decided to look at five names who are understood to feature on Ten Hag’s striker shortlist.
Here are five forwards on Manchester United’s radar this summer.
Harry Kane’s future is set to be headline news this summer with the England captain facing a major decision.
Kane will enter the final season of his contract at Spurs this summer and speculation continues to surround a potential approach from Manchester United. Despite a wealth of individual accolades and records the 29-year-old has failed to win silverware in his career to date and now appears to be a pivotal period in his career.
Harry Kane's record in World Cup and European qualifying games for England:
◎ 29 games
◉ 34 goals
◉ 4 hat-tricks
He's only failed to score in five of them. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/LAhYRhS8g1
— Squawka (@Squawka) March 26, 2023
Spurs appear no closer to ending the club’s 15-year wait for a major trophy and will begin their latest rebuild this summer, following the departure of Antonio Conte. Whoever arrives as his replacement faces a task to turn the north Londoners into contenders and Kane – who turns 30 in July – might feel time is not on his side.
Kane appears an ideal solution to United’s need for a centre-forward. He has scored more than 200 goals in the division and is chasing down Alan Shearer’s Premier League record, having scored 20 or more league goals in five of the last eight campaigns. Though perhaps short-term in comparison to other names on this list, Kane represents a guarantee of goals in the Premier League and already has an encouraging understanding with Marcus Rashford.
His arrival could be the catalyst that moves an improving Red Devils side back into title contention, if the club can prise him from north London. Daniel Levy is unlikely to let the club’s and England’s all-time record goalscorer leave without a fight.
Victor Osimhen’s reputation is on the rise and Europe’s top clubs are circling for a forward who has lit up Serie A this season.
The Nigerian has scored 21 goals in 23 league appearances for Napoli and has moved within one goal of George Weah’s record (46) as the highest scoring African footballer in Serie A history.
Osimhen is on course to finish as the division’s leading scorer as Luciano Spalletti’s side close in on a first league title since 1990. The Italians are also into the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time and a favourable draw has those in Naples dreaming of European success.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man 💥
Victor Osimhen rises highest to put Napoli in full control 🎯#UCL pic.twitter.com/oMKyM3EgKF
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 15, 2023
Osimhem’s goals have fired their charge and the forward’s understanding with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has produced one of Europe’s most exciting partnerships this season.
The 24-year-old is a physical freak and his attributes appear tailor-made for the Premier League. A modern centre-forward specimen of speed and strength, he boasts a huge leap which adds to his aerial prowess.
Willing to work hard out of possession and electric when threaded through towards goal, he could be the ideal spearhead to take Ten Hag’s team up a level. United lead the Premier League for counter attack goals (7) this season and the prospect of Osimhen and Rashford dovetailing in transitions is enough to put fear into opposition defences.
Goncalo Ramos’ breakthrough at Benfica has alerted top teams in search of goals this season, with the forward having stepped into the role Darwin Nunez vacated as the club’s chief goal threat.
After an encouraging emergence last season, Ramos has thrived since being handed the responsibility to lead the line in Lisbon. He has 24 goals and 10 assists in 36 games and made headlines with his performances at the World Cup for Portugal.
GOLO DO GONÇALO RAMOS 🇵🇹(2001)!!!
Via @vsports_pt pic.twitter.com/rk4Aj0KN2E
— Football Report (@FootballReprt) March 18, 2023
Ramos’ hat-trick in the last-16 win over Switzerland saw him become the first player since 1990 to score a knockout round treble at the World Cup and the first footballer since Miroslav Klose in 2002 to mark his first start in the tournament with a hat-trick.
Recent reports have suggested that the Red Devils have increased their interest in Ramos, who is reportedly unsettled at Benfica. The club’s failure to reward his progress with a new contract have led to speculation surrounding an exit, though Benfica could demand the forward’s €120m release clause (£105.1m) is met to sanction his sale. As shown with the recent departures of Joao Felix, Nunez and Enzo Fernandez, the Benfica board know how to drive a hard bargain.
Rasmus Hojland has catapulted himself into the consciousness of the casual fan after making headlines with his performances for Denmark during the international break.
The 20-year-old has earned comparisons to Erling Haaland following his goalscoring exploits, after Hojland marked his first start for Denmark with a hat-trick in their 3-1 win over Finland. The forward then scored twice against Kazakhstan to make it five goals in four caps for the senior side and increase the speculation over a summer exit.
*𝗺𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗺𝗲𝗲𝗽* – Rasmus Højlund 🏃 @Atalanta_BC pic.twitter.com/fXR4Cqde3i
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) February 12, 2023
Hojland plays his club football at Atalanta, for who he has scored seven goals in 14 league starts this season. It has continued a rapid rise for Hojland, who joined the Serie A side in a €17 million deal from Sturm Graz last summer after just one encouraging season in Austria.
Now on the radar of top teams across Europe, he has been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid. Expect Atalanta to make a significant profit if he departs Bergamo this summer.
Another forward fast making waves for club and country, Evan Ferguson celebrated a goal on his first start for the Republic of Ireland.
Ferguson has been hailed as the most exciting Irish talent in more than a decade, following his impressive emergence at Brighton this season. The 18-year-old has scored seven goals in all competitions this season, excelling as the focal point of a Seagulls side who have long searched for a reliable number nine.
That is sublime.
Rising star, @Evan_Ferguson9, showcases his talent once again ⭐️#EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/VE7ajpvthA
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) March 19, 2023
It’s more than Ferguson’s goals that have captured the attention, however. The teenager has demonstrated a mature understanding of centre-forward play, showcasing an ability to drop deep and link with the midfield and coolness when chances arrive.
Raw but robust, he has handled the transition from youth-team football in fine fashion and already appears well-equipped to take on the Premier League’s best defences. Brighton will want Ferguson to continue his development at the Amex Stadium, where his goals could lead to a first European campaign next season. The longer he remains on the south coast, the higher his value is expected to rise.
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