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Strikers Man Utd could sign in January

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Manchester United recruited well during the summer transfer window, strengthening a number of important positions all over the squad.

But the work isn’t finished and one area they didn’t touch was up front, where a 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo and a perma-injured Anthony Martial are the only true ‘number nine’ options.

The January market isn’t always the easiest time to buy, with players not usually available in the same way as summer. Yet it isn’t a closed door and United’s capture of Bruno Fernandes midway through 2019/20 is a good example of the success that can be had in the winter window.

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Preparation for the next transfer window has already begun – Erik ten Hag has confirmed January is on the radar, while there is a World Cup to contend with before then that is likely to have an impact on player availability and prices.

Read on for eight potential striker targets Manchester United could pursue in January.

Brian Brobbey

Brian Brobbey is well known to Erik ten Hag / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Erik ten Hag was keen to bring Brian Brobbey to Old Trafford during the summer, which would have been a reunion for the pair after previously working together at Ajax – Brobbey was handed a debut by Ten Hag in 2020.

The Dutchman was poached by RB Leipzig last summer, only to rejoin Ajax on loan in January and quickly rediscover his old form once he was back in Amsterdam. That deal then became permanent for around €19m.

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Brobbey has promised that he will leave again in the future – “I will provide a nice transfer fee for Ajax” – but could he be persuaded to choose United by Ten Hag, who has already been in touch via text message?

Moussa Dembele

Moussa Dembele is back to his best for Lyon / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

United were heavily linked with Moussa Dembele back in the summer of 2020 after the Frenchman had scored 44 goals in two seasons with Lyon, only to see him suddenly go off the boil.

A loan to Atletico Madrid in January 2021failed to rejuvenate him, but Dembele then surged back to form in the second half of last season by scoring 13 times in Lyon’s final 12 Ligue 1 games of the campaign.

The former Fulham talent, now 26 and potentially at his peak, is actually out of contract next summer and so Lyon may have to consider a cut-price January sale if they cannot agree a new deal with him.

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Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata wouldn’t be the worst idea by any means / BSR Agency/GettyImages

This may seem a little wild because his first time in the Premier League wasn’t all that good and he isn’t known as a prolific striker, but Alvaro Morata could actually be pretty effective in the right team.

At 29, he has a decade of experience at the highest level and has consistently scored double figures in the league when given a proper chance – even at Chelsea he got 11 in his debut Premier League season and 20 in all competitions for Juventus in 2020/21.

Morata has made a decent start to this season now that he is back at Atletico Madrid and could be a shrewd addition to squad depth.

Christopher Nkunku

Christopher Nkunku is a versatile forward with a summer release clause / ANP/GettyImages

Although not an out and out ‘number nine’, Christopher Nkunku has turned prolific in the last 12 months – he got 35 goals and 20 assists from a variety of attacking positions for RB Leipzig last season.

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The Frenchman signed a contract extension with Leipzig over the summer, but with the understanding that a release clause that becomes active next summer will make him available for a not unreasonable price.

United wouldn’t get the benefit of that €60m clause in January, but moving early might help them steal a march on the competition, even if it means paying slightly more than if they were to wait.

Jonathan David

Jonathan David could have a breakout World Cup / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

Jonathan David has been working his way up and building a solid reputation in European football ever since swapping his youth club in Canadian capital Ottawa for Gent in Belgium in 2018.

Now 22, he has consistently scored goals in France for Lille after joining them in 2020, even winning Ligue 1 in his debut season, and has already scored another five in his first eight league games of 2022/23.

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David will play for Canada at the 2022 World Cup this winter in a tough group against Belgium, Croatia and Morocco, which could give an indication as to whether he is now ready to step up to a new level again.

Memphis Depay

An older Memphis Depay would be a different prospect now / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Memphis Depay wasn’t ready for Manchester United in 2015. He had not long turned 21 at the time of his big money move from PSV Eindhoven and probably still had some growing up to do on and off the pitch.

But Memphis has shown during a successful spell at Lyon and a respectable goal tally last season at Barcelona that, at 28, he is capable of doing a job at a high level. Now might be the right time to come back.

The Dutchman is only likely to be a back-up player at most the longer he stays at Camp Nou and has entered the last 12 months of his contract.

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Victor Osimhen

Victor Osimhen has an eye-watering price tag / Ivan Romano/GettyImages

One thing is for certain, Victor Osimhen would be the most expensive striker target that United could pursue in January, with Napoli paying an initial €70m in 2020 and valuing him at €120m just last month.

The electric Nigerian is very good though. He made a name for himself with Lille and managed 18 goals in all competitions for Napoli last season.

Intriguingly, Osimhen recently ran Liverpool ragged in the Champions League, albeit succumbing to injury during the first half of that game, and would be a good fit for United’s group of young vibrant attackers.

Ivan Toney

Ivan Toney could be a smart choice / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Some of Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest transfer successes came when he poached players from other Premier League clubs – think Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham in the 1990s.

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Ivan Toney is only at the beginning of his second proper season as a top flight player, but he has already forced his way into the England squad and is developing a fantastic all-round game not dissimilar to Harry Kane.

The Brentford star will score goals himself when given chances – he could even reunite with Christian Eriksen in Manchester – but would also play a vital role in creating them for others.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!





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EPL

Player ratings as Fabio Vieira inspires routine victory

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Arsenal made it two wins from two in the Europa League this season as they secured a convincing 3-0 victory over Bodo/Glimt at the Emirates.

Eddie Nketiah and Rob Holding both found the back of the net midway through the first half, before Fabio Vieira killed things off five minutes from time to seal all three points for Mikel Arteta’s men.

Predictably, Arsenal were on top in the opening stages and Nketiah came close to bending in a nice opener inside the first five minutes, instead watching as his strike whistled wide of the far post.

Some nice play handed Vieira a chance shortly after, but the youngster couldn’t get over his half-volley and sent the ball blazing over the bar when he really should have been testing the goalkeeper.

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The breakthrough finally came 23 minutes in courtesy of Nketiah, who tapped home into an empty net after Kieran Tierney’s glorious strike thundered back off the post and landed right at the feet of the Arsenal striker.

And the second came just moments later. Vieira’s glorious cross was steered home by the head of Holding, putting this game to bed before the half-hour mark.

A free-kick from Granit Xhaka then stung the gloves of Bodo/Glimt goalkeeper Nikita Haikin, before Vieira failed to make the most of an opportunity to add a third as he pulled his own effort wide of the post.

Xhaka drew another save from Haikin just seconds after the half-time break but Arsenal appeared to take a foot off the gas as Bodo/Glimt grew into the game.

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The away side had some excellent spells in control of the ball but lacked any sort of quality in the final third, with Arsenal regularly keeping them at arm’s length with relative ease.

Bodo/Glimt had Arsenal pinned back at times but the Gunners almost had a third when Nketiah found himself through on goal with around ten minutes left, but he sent his effort ballooning over the bar.

Then, with five minutes to go, the third did come. Gabriel Jesus embarked on a ridiculous solo run which saw him skin two defenders and lay the ball back to Vieira, who powered the ball into the back of the net.

Arsenal preserved their clean sheet in stoppage time as Matt Turner’s save threatened to cross the line before being hooked away by Holding, who had to stretch to karate-kick the ball out of the air.

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GK: Matt Turner – 7/10 – Took a while to realise this wasn’t Aaron Ramsdale. Rarely involved in the first half and comfortable under more pressure after the break. Needed to make a few nice saves.

CB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 8/10 – Staked his claim to return to the starting lineup with an excellent showing. Dominant in the air and comfortable with the ball at his feet. Even did a job on the left after Tierney went off.

CB: Rob Holding – 7/10 – Hardly tested at the back but made an impact in attack, heading home Vieira’s cross.

CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Did his job without really getting out of second gear.

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RM: Marquinhos – 5/10 – A few bright spells but usually had you wanting more. Feels like he’s inching closer to a loan move.

CM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 5/10 – Probably a bit too cautious in possession in the first half and started to look out of his depth in the second half when the pressure stepped up.

CM: Granit Xhaka – 7/10 – Put himself about with real energy and quality. Clearly keen to get an early lead and seal himself a well-deserved rest.

LM: Kieran Tierney – 7/10 – Looked really sharp on his return to the team. Unfortunate not to get a glorious goal but at least facilitated Nketiah’s tap-in.

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AM: Fabio Vieira – 8/10 – Growing in confidence with each passing performance. Pulled the strings from start to finish and just seemed to constantly find himself on the ball.

ST: Gabriel Martinelli – 6/10 – Had the odd bright spell but this was undoubtedly an off night for Martinelli.

ST: Eddie Nketiah – 7/10 – A lot of hard work to get himself involved and flashed his natural goalscoring instincts as he tapped home Tierney’s rebound.

SUB: Martin Odegaard (58′ for Xhaka) – 6/10 – One or two nice passes but couldn’t really get on the ball as Bodo/Glimt stepped up their pressure.

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SUB: Bukayo Saka (58′ for Marquinhos) – 6/10 – Surprisingly came on when it wasn’t really necessary. Did well but had fans wincing every time he was tackled.

SUB: Gabriel Jesus (58′ for Martinelli) – 7/10 – Provided some energy to the attacking line and bagged a glorious assist.

SUB: Ben White (70′ for Tierney) – 6/10 – Happy to fly down the right during his cameo.

SUB: Reiss Nelson (82′ for Nketiah) – N/A

Manager: Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – Made some good changes to temporarily break Bodo/Glimt’s rhythm. Surprisingly brought Saka and Jesus off the bench when it wasn’t necessary to risk them.

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Player of the Match – Fabio Vieira

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Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury

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Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury

Wesley Fofana’s knee injury is better than initially feared after the first set of tests returned positive results.

The defender suffered a knee injury in a collision with Rafael Leao in the 38th minute of Chelsea’s 3-0 home win against AC Milan, as his night ended in frustrating fashion having scored his first goal for the club earlier in the match.

There is hope that Fofana could return before the World Cup, with Chelsea’s final match before the tournament taking place away to Newcastle on November 12.

The centre-back is likely to miss this weekend’s clash against Wolves and the away match at San Siro against Milan next week.

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Fofana was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches on Wednesday night, with his right knee in a brace as there were worries he may have suffered a serious injury.

Speaking in his post-match press conference after Chelsea’s victory over Milan, Blues boss Graham Potter admitted he was unsure how bad it would prove to be for Fofana.

‘We’ll have to scan it tomorrow and see how he is but there’s nothing to report at the moment,” Potter said.

“That’s the one disappointing thing about the evening so we have our fingers crossed. We’re concerned but I don’t want to speculate on it now.

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“These things happen. He’s a young guy and a strong guy but we’ll support him.”

Source: EveningStandard
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EPL

Erik ten Hag explains decision to substitute Jadon Sancho in Omonia victory

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has confessed that he was unimpressed with the left side of his team in the first half of Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Omonia Nicosia, leading to him substituting both Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia at half-time.

United were woeful in the first half and trailed at the break after Sancho and Malacia conspired to give away the ball for the cheapest of counter-attack goals, and both were hooked at the interval.

Sancho was replaced by Marcus Rashford, who went on to bag a goal and an assist, while fellow substitute Anthony Martial also scored just moments after being introduced on the hour mark.

Asked to explain his logic behind removing Sancho while his team were losing, Ten Hag said: “It [the goal] was not what I wasn’t happy with, it was the movement with our ball.

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“The width on the left side, for me, was no good first-half – the movement from behind the defending line.

“So I hoped with Luke [Shaw] and Marcus we get more effect from that and so in my opinion that happens.”

Asked what he told Rashford and the rest of the team at the break to inspire a comeback, Ten Hag told BT Sport: “More runs, we are too static, we have to make the opposition move to get behind – that is why we made two subs.

“The subs really had an impact today.”

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The boss added: “I would call it stay composed. It can always happen, football is a game of mistakes. I agree with you, first 30 or 35 minutes, we played quite well, the only thing we didn’t do was score a goal.

“When you score a goal you make your life easy, we didn’t. Then we concede a goal and it was the worst 10 minutes from the game from us. After half-time, we dealt well with the setback.”



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