Man Utd's unexpected upgrades for Weghorst

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 30 Mar 2023 13:29 BST
  • 4 min read
Erik ten Hag, Manchester United
© ProShots

Manchester United will make a move to sign a centre-forward in the summer, that much is certain.

What remains unclear, though, is who the long-term successor to Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford will be.

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Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani are all names that have been closely linked with the post.

MORE: Man Utd told ONLY way they can sign Kolo Muani

Securing a deal for any one of these three will be both complicated and expensive. It is not expected that any of these players will come in below the €100 million mark and it is likely that a transfer for any of this trio would break Man Utd’s club record transfer fee.

According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, the popular narrative may also be sending the media down the wrong track as the Red Devils seek to secure a No.9.

Romano claims that Erik ten Hag’s idea “is to go for a more traditional, physical number 9, not just a technical one”.

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Victor Osimhen is linked to Man Utd
© ProShots - Victor Osimhen is linked to Man Utd

With this in mind, FootballTransfers consulted with data analytics experts SciSports to dig up the type of player that Ten Hag may favour for this type of role.

Certainly, the Dutchman has shown a willingness to play this brand of striker. The great Cristiano Ronaldo did not match his thinking and was pushed first to the bench then, ultimately, out of the club, with the workmanlike Wout Weghorst arriving on loan from Burnley.

Perhaps, though, the best example of a centre forward in Ten Hag-ball is Sebastien Haller, who worked so effectively under him at Ajax. Last season, the Ivory Coast forward scored 33 goals in 42 outings, including 11 in eight in the Champions League, showing that this approach works.

But with Haller currently building his fitness at Borussia Dortmund after a health scare and, therefore, out of the picture, who are players like him who might fit at United?

Three physical No.9 options for Man Utd

SciSports took their model and looked at players 28 or under, with strong positioning in the box, who are good in the air and often engage in physical duels. Furthermore, they also recover the ball in the final third regularly.

Three interesting names were thrown up, including two current Premier League players.

Ivan Toney
© ProShots - Ivan Toney

Brentford striker Ivan Toney – who has been linked with Man Utd recently – is one player who fits the profile of Ten Hag’s ideal No.9, while Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is another. With 16 and 11 Premier League goals to their name this season, both would appear to be attractive options.

Monaco striker Breel Embolo, meanwhile, is more of a wildcard, though has performed well in Ligue 1 since a €12.5 million summer move from Borussia Monchengladbach. He has 14 goals in 38 appearances this season but is currently nursing a knee problem that will see him miss several weeks.

SciSports back all of these three players to be a significant upgrade on Weghorst.

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