The club&aposs plan to wait until the summer before investing heavily once more remains wise but they were already low on options before Cristiano Ronaldo&aposs dramatic departure. Now Erik ten Hag has been left with just Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to lead his line.
They are both playing well at present but to rely on either to remain on a hot streak or injury free for the entire campaign would be fanciful. United are competing on multiple fronts and if they want to return to the Champions League – so they can be in the race to sign the best available forwards, such as Victor Osimhen, in the summer – then they need to reinforce the attacking arsenal now.
Options are obviously at a premium in January. Prices are inflated, clubs are unwilling to sell and the likes of Osimhen or Goncalo Ramos are unlikely to want to switch midway through a season in which their clubs are performing well domestically and in Europe.
United must get creative, start reaching deeper in the barrel and get on their knees to look for a diamond in the rough. Some decent options can still be found.
One who makes a great degree of sense is Memphis Depay. Taking his failed 18 months at United out of it. Memphis is now an experienced, skilful and dependable goalscorer who has well over 100 goal contributions since he departed Old Trafford. Those are numbers not many at the club can match.
Ten Hag will likely be familiar with him given the Dutch connection so he will fit within his current ideal target criteria and he could to be available. Barcelona are again doing all they can save looking in the creases of the sofa to find any spare cash and Memphis, out of favour following Robert Lewandowski&aposs arrival, might be expendable. The Catalonians would likely be happy to let him leave on loan for the rest of the season just to get his wages off the bill.
Then the 28-year-old&aposs contract will expire in the summer where, if he succeeds back in Manchester, United could sign him for nothing. What does Memphis get? Well, a shot at redemption, a chance to prove he can cut it in the Premier League and a lot more action than he&aposs seeing at the Camp Nou. It would suit all parties.
But, if it doesn&apost come to pass there is another option which could work as well. Moussa Dembele is also out of contract in the summer and after losing his spot to Alexandre Lacazette at Lyon this season, could be angling for a move. The fact he isn&apost a regular starter shouldn&apost put United off as it seems a bizarre situation, the Frenchman finished last season with 21 goals in 30 league games.
An excellent return and while he isn&apost as versatile as Memphis that might be exactly what United need. Though Memphis is largely a striker now he has been converted there and still isn&apost a typical frontman. Dembele can&apost be anything else. There is no question about him drifting wide or exploring the channels, Dembele is a striker who will prowl the box and be a real focal point United lack.
While Ten Hag plays an attractive style he has never been shy about having a big No.9 lead his attack, exemplified by Sebastien Haller&aposs success in Amsterdam. Dembele could fulfil a similar role by being the point of the spear to lead the line, attract defenders and allow other forwards to flourish in the space. His proven quality of being able to finish chances will help as well.
At 26 he remains a good age to get even better and given the few months remaining on his deal he won&apost command too high of a fee so should be an affordable winter signing. That would then leave plenty in the budget for United to get the star striker they want in the summer while having an excellent backup option for him already secured.
United have looked at Dembele several times in the past and January could be the perfect time to make their interest concrete.
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