Manchester United have made the signing of a centre-forward the club’s focus for the summer, as Erik ten Hag looks to bring in a proven source of goals.
Man United showed progress during Ten Hag’s debut season in charge, but were reliant on Marcus Rashford in the final third and are keen to bring in a recognised number nine to compliment the forward.
Harry Kane has been linked with a big-money move to Old Trafford, but Tottenham’s reluctance to do business with a Premier League rival and interest from Europe’s elite clubs means alternative targets are now being considered.
We look at six strikers who could be Harry Kane alternatives for Manchester United.
Rasmus Hojland is on the radar of Europe’s biggest clubs after an exciting emergence at Atalanta this season. The 20-year-old signed for Atalanta in a €17m deal from Sturm Graz last summer and has caught the eye with a series of impressive performances in Italy.
Hojland has scored 10 goals in all competitions and has earned comparisons with Erling Haaland, given his Scandinavian roots, tall frame, pace and lethal left-foot. The Dane has not quite replicated the prolific goal return of an early Haaland, but the similarities are obvious when watching the forward race in behind defences.
Here’s THAT Rasmus Højlund golazo, for your viewing pleasure 📺 pic.twitter.com/XXeugepuzs
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) May 21, 2023
“Hojlund has this spirit, energy, intensity, but also the technical quality that is just remarkable. He still has so much margin for improvement, too,” Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini told reporters after Hojland scored in a win at Lazio in February.
“He has very similar characteristics to Haaland. He is so quick, he’s under 11 seconds over 100m and that’s not even trying very hard. Considering his height, he has a low centre of gravity. I am convinced he’ll have a great career, he just gets stronger every day.”
Hojland hit the headlines during March’s international break after scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Finland on his first start for Denmark, before netting a brace in the following fixture against Kazakhstan. He followed those goals with another against Slovenia this week to take his total to six in six appearances at international level.
Hojland’s inexperience makes him an option with an element of risk for Manchester United, but he could prove a bargain if he continues to develop and maximises his potential.
Mehdi Taremi offers a more experienced option at centre-forward with Manchester United understood to have made enquiries into the availability of the Porto forward.
Taremi has been a prolific presence in Portugal across the past four seasons, having only moved to European football for the first time aged 26. Since scoring a hat-trick on his first Primeira Liga start for Rio Ave the Iranian has not looked back, signing for Porto a season later and firing goals at a remarkable rate.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 1, 2022
The 30-year-old has scored 80 goals in 147 appearances for Porto and ended last season with a career-best 31 in all competitions. Taremi was Portugal’s leading scorer for a second time and could be an ideal short-term option should Ten Hag, as reported, seek the addition of both an experienced and emerging forward this summer.
Iranian publication IMNA have reported United are in the race for Taremi, who could be available for as little as €15m. Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Wolves and Fenerbahce have also been linked.
Victor Osimhen is perhaps the most in-demand centre-forward in Europe this summer after a superb season at Napoli.
Osimhen ended the season as the league’s leading scorer to win the Capocannoniere award, as Napoli secured a first Serie A title in 33 years under Luciano Spalletti.
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) October 24, 2022
Osimhen scored 31 goals in all competitions to establish himself as one of the best number nines on the continent, a return which has placed him high on the wish-list of clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Nigeria international combines formidable athleticism with a ruthless touch around goal and has scored 50 league goals in 86 games across three seasons in Naples.
Napoli are reluctant to lose the forward and have agreed a two-year contract extension with Osimhen, but club president Aurelio de Laurentiis has admitted that the 24-year-old could leave if an offer arrives that could not be refused ‘for the good of Napoli’. Expect any offer to exceed £100m.
Ollie Watkins has been named as a Premier League proven option on Manchester United’s striker shortlist, following a brilliant season at Aston Villa.
Watkins’ fine form helped Villa secure a place in next season’s Europa Conference League after a remarkable turnaround under Unai Emery. The 27-year-old was in electric form following the turn of the new year with only Harry Kane (17) and Erling Haaland (15) outscoring Watkins (12) in 2023.
He has scored 40 goals in 109 top-flight appearances since signing for Villa from Brentford and scored a career-best 15 Premier League goals in 2022/23.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) June 12, 2023
Watkins is perhaps not the most glamorous name on this list, but is a forward who can occupy backlines singlehandedly with his mix of hustle and hard-work. Comfortable drifting into wide areas and always a threat in behind, he could dovetail with Marcus Rashford as the latter comes inside from the flanks into goalscoring positions.
Villa would be reluctant to lose the England international however, ahead of the club’s first European campaign in more than a decade.
The services of Goncalo Ramos have reportedly been touted to Premier League clubs as the agent of the Benfica forward looks to secure his client a major move.
Manchester United, Tottenham and Newcastle have all been linked with Ramos, who is the latest hot property to have emerged from Benfica’s ranks. The 22-year-old scored 27 goals and provided 12 assists in 47 appearances for Benfica last season, having replaced the departed Darwin Nunez in the side.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 11, 2023
Ramos announced his arrival on the world stage during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as the forward marked his first start for Portugal with a hat-trick in their 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland in the last 16.
Ramos became the youngest player since Eusébio in the 1962/1963 campaign to score 25+ goals in a campaign for Benfica last season, as Roger Schmidt’s side won the Primeira Liga and reached the Champions League quarter-finals. He has been valued at around £80m.
Randal Kolo Muani
Randal Kolo Muani has been one of the breakthrough stars of the season after an excellent debut campaign at Eintracht Frankfurt.
A free transfer arrival from Nantes last summer, the forward has since exploded in the Bundesliga to become a France international and one of Europe’s most coveted centre-forwards. Kolo Muani scored 15 goals and laid on 11 assists in 32 league appearances for Frankfurt last season and ended the campaign with 23 goals in all competitions.
RANDAL KOLO MUANI! 🇫🇷💫
— Eintracht Frankfurt (@Eintracht_por) September 26, 2022
Named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season and as the division’s best newcomer, he has earned nine caps for France since his debut last year and scored his first international goal during Les Bleus’ World Cup semi-final win over Morocco in Qatar.
Full of drive and dynamism in the final third, he has excelled on the counter-attack with space to run into this season. Compared to positional peers in Europe’s top five leagues, the Champions League and Europa League last season, the 24-year-old ranks in the 97th percentile for assists and in the 93rd and 95th percentiles respectively for progressive carries and successful take-ons.
Frankfurt can expect to make a mammoth profit if the French forward is allowed to depart this summer.