Erik ten Hag guided Manchester United to a coveted top-four Premier League finish in his first season in charge, but there’s ample room for improvement.
Among the sides to have secured European football for next season, only Aston Villa (51) netted fewer goals than the Red Devils (58), highlighting the frontline as the team’s weakest link.
Man Utd’s decision to part ways with Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2022 World Cup blunted the attacking edge, especially after Edinson Cavani’s departure last summer left ten Hag without an out-and-out striker.
Without a prolific No 9 to lead the line, United relied on homegrown star Marcus Rashford to shoulder the scoring burden, with the 25-year-old racking up 17 league goals and five assists.
Rashford’s tally accounted for 38% of the Red Devils’ overall scoring output in the Premier League, while he was also the only Man Utd player to hit double digits in 2022/23.
Therefore, landing a new striker is one of United’s top priorities going into the summer transfer window, with the Old Trafford hierarchy considering several high-profile options.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane would be a dream signing for Man Utd, and after Spurs failed to secure European qualification for next season, now is the perfect time for the Red Devils to launch an assault.
As one of the most prolific frontmen in modern Premier League history, the England captain is a proven striker. But negotiations with Daniel Levy won’t be plain sailing despite the London side’s wayward campaign.
As was the case in the past, the Tottenham bigwig won’t let his talismanic skipper leave the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without a significant compensation fee.
Kane would be a massive upgrade on Anthony Martial and Wout Weghorst, who won’t stay at the Theatre of Dreams following an underwhelming half-season loan.
With the Dutchman set to return to Burnley and the ex-Monaco star struggling for form and fitness, it’s understandable the Red Devils are ready to break the bank to sign the 29-year-old.
But the three-time Premier League Golden Boot winner is not only a lethal finisher, as witnessed by his impressive 30-goal haul in 2022/23, he’s also a skilful playmaker.
His passing ability and tremendous work rate make him a perfect team player.
Indeed, Kane’s style of play bears much resemblance to Man Utd icon Wayne Rooney, which is another reason the Red Devils are keen to lure him away from the capital.
In case talks for Kane’s switch to Manchester come a cropper, ten Hag has a contingency plan in place, with Napoli’s Victor Osimhen emerging as another potential candidate to fill the void up top.
Despite several injury setbacks throughout the 2022/23 Serie A season, the 24-year-old won the Capocannoniere award for the highest scorer in Italy’s top flight with 25 goals.
Osimhen, who played a crucial role in helping the Partenopei end a 33-year Scudetto duck, boasts an intimidating physical presence, impressive speed, agility and strength.
His God-given features allow him to outpace defenders and create scoring opportunities for his teammates, making him a threat in the air and on the ground.
But like in Kane’s case, Napoli chief Aurelio De Laurentiis will unlikely sanction his departure in the summer unless a staggering offer knocks him off his feet.
Goncalo Ramos ran the show as Benfica won the Primeira Liga in 2022/23, soaking up the limelight as the team’s leading goalscorer with 19 goals.
He did reasonably well in the Champions League, while his memorable hat-trick against Switzerland at the 2022 World Cup with Portugal drew worldwide attention towards his burgeoning talent.
At 21, the Portuguese starlet can still improve a lot, and there’s no doubt he has the potential to become a world-class striker.
Overall, his playing style showcases a combination of athleticism, technical proficiency and a keen eye for goal, making him a perfect candidate to spearhead the attack at Old Trafford in the future.
However, Man Utd cannot afford to nurture his development, with fans already running out of patience amid the club’s exhausting ten-year Premier League title wait.