Manchester United have less than 12 months to prepare for dream transfer mission – George Smith

Just a year after they were forced into saying farewell to Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma, the Seagulls sanctioned the exits of Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo in the most recent transfer window. Though Brighton are the experts of discovering hidden talent, they sometimes struggle to retain it.

It is why some Seagulls supporters may already be dreading the next summer transfer window and the prospect of losing striker Evan Ferguson. The 18-year-old is quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting prospects in the Premier League and big-name clubs are already queuing up for his signature.

Manchester United, who will resume their Premier League campaign at home to the Seagulls this coming weekend, are expected to position themselves within the queue having already been monitoring the Republic of Ireland international. Sources believe that Ferguson could leave the Amex Stadium next summer, despite signing a new contract not all that long ago.

Though Ferguson is only 18, his stock is rising at a rapid rate of knots. He already has ten Premier League goals to his name, four of which have been plundered inside the opening four games of this season.

Fronting an exciting Brighton attack, Ferguson&aposs value increased even further just under a fortnight ago when he plundered an impressive hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Newcastle United. He now has 14 goals in just 33 first-team appearances for the club. It is a record that you can&apost ignore.

The Irishman, who will turn 19 next month, is under contract at Brighton until 2028, a deal that he signed earlier this year to protect his resale value. Despite that long-term contract being in place, clubs are already circling and watching his every move, no doubt with the intention of moving for his signature next summer.

United, despite boosting their forward options with the addition of Rasmus Hojlund during the summer, are likely to be on the hunt for another goal-getter next summer. Erik ten Hag has wanted to add another centre-forward to his ranks for a while and next summer is likely to represent his latest chance to complete that mission.

If Ferguson, who has started twice for Brighton so far this term, is Ten Hag&aposs preferred candidate, United need to ensure they head into next summer&aposs transfer window with a realistic and meaningful chance of securing his signature. His performances and his attacking output this season, plus his respective valuation, will, of course, dictate whether United can realistically go for him in just under a year&aposs time, but they have to ensure that they are in the best position possible themselves.

United, of course, have attempted to sign the likes of Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane in the not-too-distant past, only to miss out to fellow European heavyweights. Bellingham joined Real Madrid and Kane made the switch to Bayern Munich. United no longer carry the status that they did a decade or so ago.

Therefore, with Ferguson, who is already being mentioned in the same breath as a young Wayne Rooney, being tipped to become a future star, United need to prove that they are a club capable of attracting Ferguson at this juncture in his career. United will always be one of the biggest and most powerful clubs in the world on paper, but they are far from being that on the pitch, despite making undisputed progress over the past 12 months under Ten Hag&aposs watchful eye.

Ferguson, such is his rapid growth, will, if extracted from Brighton in just under a year&aposs time, be expected to join one of the Premier League&aposs elite and take his game to the next level. His physique, intelligent movement and varied finishing capabilities make him an attractive proposition for anyone, meaning it would be no surprise to see the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur throw their name into the ring for their signature.

Though it remains early days this season, United, both on and off the pitch, are not demonstrating that they are an elite-level club with cohesion and a sense of calm. Instead, they are at sixes and sevens and already in desperate need of good performances and results to change the headlines.