As far as Manchester United’s search for a striker goes, Victor Osimhen is a pretty good place to start.
United are in desperate need of a new frontman. The club has admitted as much and have now started drafting plans for their list of possible targets. It’s understood that Napoli star Osimhen is of interest and that’s certainly a good sign that the club is looking in the right direction.
The Nigerian front-man has been in scintillating form since his move from Lille to Naples in 2020 and his nine goals in 13 league matches this season have fired Napoli eight points clear at the top of Serie A. If United managed to add Osimhen to Erik ten Hag’s squad then it would be a major coup.
Also read: Omishen of interest to United as they draft up transfer lists
It’s no guarantee, of course, as there is bound to be some stiff competition interested in such a lethal striker with the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Tottenham possibly all looking to add attacking reinforcements next year. The 23-year-old will likely come at a massive price given he is contracted until 2025 and was signed for €80m. Failing to qualify for the Champions League would almost certainly rule them out of the running, too.
When United spend big on a striker they will need to ensure they aren’t wasting their money and targeting Osimhen is a good sign of the quality they will be aiming for. The problem is, however, is that the club’s preference remains to start the next phase of their rebuild in the summer rather than January.
In fairness, there’s no chance Osimhen could be signed halfway through a season in which Napoli have a real chance of finally winning the Scudetto again and any striker of a similar calibre would likely be difficult as well. But that doesn’t mean United can’t move to sign another striker in the new year.
While the hunt for a big-money star signing can wait until the end of the season, a less expensive stop-gap signing to get them through the rest of the campaign should definitely be considered. United’s striking options are low on quantity and reliable quality. Anthony Martial has shown promising signs this season but has been sidelined for the vast majority of it. Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer finding the back of the net as clinically as he used to and has repeatedly caused off-field drama. Marcus Rashford has had a good start to the season but still needs to prove he can do so for over a year.
Even if Rashford maintains his form, one striker isn’t nearly enough for a team of United’s aspirations. Their lack of depth in forward areas has seen their good form falter in recent weeks and goals have become an increasing premium.
United have only managed to score 18 goals in 13 Premier League games – fewer than Fulham, Brighton, Brentford, Leeds and Leicester – and they failed to finish top of their Europa League group, meaning they now have to face Barcelona in a play-off, on goal difference.
A lack of goals is already proving costly and if they don’t address it in January then it may come back to bite them again in May. If United fail to make the top four because they don’t score enough then they can kiss goodbye to a certain level of striker they would want to sign in the summer anyway.
January certainly isn’t an ideal market to shop in due to inflated prices but an astute addition can have a massive impact on a side. Just look at Bruno Fernandes’ arrival in January 2020. United don’t need to spend massive money on a striker in the winter window but they should absolutely try and find some quality at a decent price or maybe even a loan move.
That’s not to say another Odion Ighalo should be brought in or take a second swing at signing Marko Arnautovic, but diamonds can certainly be found in the rough if you look hard enough. One player who could tick all the boxes is Lyon’s Moussa Dembele, a striker the club have been monitoring for some time already.
The 26-year-old’s form has dipped a little this season after he bizarrely lost his place to Alexandre Lacazette despite finishing last season as their top scorer. But that treatment could well mean the Frenchman could be tempted by a move and with his contract expiring in the summer he might be available at a bargain price.
Dembele notched 21 goals in 30 league games last season and is a proper No.9 that United have been lacking. A consistent scorer with a physical presence and intelligent movement to bring a different dimension and, crucially, goals to their flat attack. He’s also not cup-tied in European competition so could feature in the Europa League.
If not Dembele, then someone else. United have a vast scouting network and if they can’t find a good striker to give them a much-needed boost and ensure they finish in the top four then what’s the point? Osimhen would be a great signing but they could blow their hopes of ever getting him if they don’t bring someone else in first.