Manchester United’s January plans, takeover latest and what Wout Weghorst interest means for Joao Felix

United, who have not faced the League One side since 2007, are strong favourites to progress to the last-four of the competition and continue their excellent run of form. Friday night&aposs 3-1 win over Everton in the FA Cup third round stretched the their winning run in all competitions to seven matches, meaning confidence is high ahead of what promises to be another busy period for Erik ten Hag&aposs side.

After facing Charlton, United will immediately switch their focus to Saturday&aposs huge derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford, an encounter that marks the first of three Premier League fixtures in the space of just nine days. United have back-to-back away trips to Crystal Palace and Arsenal after taking on City.

As well as having plenty of fixtures to fulfil and prepare for, United are also in the midst of the January transfer window and are looking to strengthen their attacking options. The club is attempting to wrap up a loan deal for Burnley striker Wout Weghorst.

On Monday, our chief United writer, Samuel Luckhurst, hosted a Q&A in an attempt to try and answer as many questions as possible that United&aposs fans had for him. The questions covered several topics, including the latest on the prospect of a takeover, Aaron Wan-Bissaka&aposs future, the deal to bring Weghorst to Old Trafford and much, much more.

Q: There are some rumours floating around that Wout Weghorst will be a permanent signing now rather than a loan deal, leaving us open to another potential loan signing. Any news from your side on this?

SL: United won&apost sign two strikers this month. Unless something severe happens to one of their prime forwards. They only went for Odion Ighalo in 2020 because Marcus Rashford was sidelined for the long-term.

If they have to buy Weghorst that&aposll be enforced by the complex negotiations. Burnley do not have a recall clause on his loan and Besiktas had an option to buy, so United have to keep two clubs happy/sanguine, rather than only one. I should add United have always been adamant a striker signing this month would be a loan.

Q: What is the current status of the takeover? Rumours were hot last month, but it seems like all has cooled down for the past few weeks. Can we expect a full sale by April? And who do you think are most likely to buy us? Middle East or another American consortium?

SL: It was always going to dominate the news cycle after the announcement. Some companies were happy to put their &aposinterest&apos out there and once they got some attention and a boost in share prices, they just as quietly knocked down their &aposinterest&apos. I&aposd never put a timeframe on a transfer, never mind the sale of one of the biggest sporting institutions on the planet. These things do not happen overnight.

I just hope, for United&aposs sake, they fall into the right hands. United supporters are principled and value integrity. Many would be opposed to certain owners coming in. Todd Boehly looked rather inoffensive but he looks more amateurish than Ed Woodward in his first years as executive vice-chairman.

Q: Have you heard any rumours connecting Teemu Pukki to United?

SL: I haven&apost and, to be honest, that does not interest me in the slightest. United have put wheels in motion to get a striker in on loan. Norwich have just appointed a new manager and Pukki is Championship standard.

Q: If the Weghorst deal goes through, do you think that the Joao Felix route will be dead? Seems to me like the Glazers won&apost grant anything due to the possible sale.

SL: Why would United sign two forwards in one window? Also, do United fans know where Felix plays? He&aposs rarely the No.9. He&aposs more of a forward and he&aposd be an expensive one on loan. I don&apost think he&aposs right for the balance of the United attack but as he&aposs a name he appeals to fans of a certain persuasion.

Jorge Mendes would love to make it happen as it would be the perfect rebuttal to Cristiano Ronaldo, whose behaviour in his last months at United did not impress Mendes.

Q: Do you have any insight into United&aposs forthcoming summer hunt for a striker? You mentioned Victor Osimhen as a potential target, but I was wondering if Benjamin Sesko would be revisited and signed from RB Leipzig before he even kicks a ball for them?

SL: Sesko&aposs agent was at Old Trafford recently for some networking. United should have maybe given him short shrift after what happened in the summer. Sesko looks a player but United need someone more proven than that. He&aposs playing in Austria (I know Erling Haaland did but Haaland looks like he was built in a lab and is a generational talent).

It will be interesting to see if United test the waters with Harry Kane. They&aposre possibly the only Premier League club he would join now City has gone out the window. Osimhen has all the attributes but Napoli could hold out for a higher fee for him than Spurs could for Kane.

Q: I hear there is potential for Memphis Depay returning, possibly in the summer on a free. What are your thoughts on this, and do you think Ten Hag would get the best out of him due to their Dutch influence?

SL: If Depay was to return I&aposd have thought it&aposd have been this month. United need to invest properly in a striker in the summer, not cut corners with a freebie. Depay would&aposve made some sense this month as a stop-gap/support striker.

It is not an appealing set of Dutch forwards to target, in truth. I found some of the online obsession with Gakpo to be a window into how addicted some fans are to transfers. You get the sense a lot didn&apost have a clue he is a left-winger – the last profile of player United need. Liverpool did need one.

Weghorst is objectively average but I can see why he appeals to United on a short-term basis. He is a skill set none of the other forwards have and Ten Hag was keen on Marko Arnuatovic in the summer (an abhorrent approach). A lot of fans are overlooking the fact that United invested 225.4million in the summer – a necessary but eye-watering amount of money. Yet some still believed United had triggered Enzo Fernandez&aposs release clause of 100m or so.

Q: So understanding Weghorst as a six-month long loanee, who will be the No.9 target in the summer for United? I expect Harry Kane or Victor Oshimen.

SL: Both are of interest to United. United are certainly not going to come out and say &aposwe&aposre not signing Harry Kane&apos. That would be ill-advised. They could be outpriced for both of those strikers.

Ten Hag does like Benfica&aposs Goncalo Ramos and Mohammed Kudus at Ajax. They are both more attainable. Kudus would be relatively straightforward, although if United plump for him they should get that done early doors after Ajax had them over a barrel with Antony.

Q: It&aposs particularly galling seeing United continually be linked with/come close to signing talents for modest fees (Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez & Jude Bellingham) and then see them go elsewhere, thrive, and prove perfect for their team, only to be worth 10 times the amount they could have got them for originally. Do they club find this equally frustrating? Likewise, is there any way they would revisit Caicedo or Fernandez in the summer, in lieu of Ten Hag&aposs favourite, Frenkie de Jong?

SL: Forgive my ignorance, but I and others hadn&apost heard of Enzo Fernandez prior to the World Cup. I don&apost see him as &aposone that got away&apos. A cursory glance suggests he was linked more with City.

United had Bellingham at the training ground and, in the words of someone who met him, &aposrolled out the red carpet&apos. He chose Dortmund because of what they had done with Sancho and Haaland and because he would get more playing time there. He wasn&apost going to get that at United. Dortmund are also-rans who&aposve become a halfway house for some of the most prodigious talents. It&aposs a good cash-cow for them but also highlights how irrelevant they have effectively become.

United dropped a clanger with Caicedo. I was told at the time the situation was a &aposclusterf**k&apos with so many agents involved but Brighton still got it done (no surprise, looking at their recruitment record). He has been a terrific signing and is easily worth 60m now. Maybe more.

Q: What&aposs happening regarding Aaron Wan-Bissaka? Are United still interested in sending him away after his recent resurgence?

SL: The interest was/is from West Ham United. It suits United to keep him until the summer because if he were to go they would have to bring in a replacement when they are busy enough with the striker situation.

United couldn&apost get a right-back in in the summer, so had to keep Wan-Bissaka, not that there was any major movement to take him off their hands.

Wan-Bissaka has done decently of late on the defensive side. His reputation has recovered through barely playing and, come the summer, he might be more sellable. He&aposs good enough for most of the bottom-half clubs in the league.

Q: Would United sign someone like Felix if a favourable deal is found, and if Anthony Elanga left on loan?

SL: They&aposre trying to sign Weghorst. Felix is hawked around every window, is not the most balanced option and would command a large loan fee and is on big wages.

Q: Who is Ten Hag most likely looking to move on in January and in the summer?

SL: Pellistri needs to go this month. Elanga might be allowed to if a striker comes in but United would still be light in attack, especially with Jasdon Sancho still not back in squad training. The first team&aposs needs come first and Ten Hag doesn&apost want to end the window weaker than at the start of it.

Lampard would like Elanga but, if that does happen, it might be towards the end of the window.

Q: Two questions: As the palace and possibly Leeds United game will be rescheduled, is there any word on West Ham United in May due to the coronation? Secondly, will Weghorst be the only loan signing? With Donny van de Beek possibly out long-term, Sancho currently unavailable and Elanga attracting interest, could we see more than one loan addition?

SL: We wondered about that at Carrington a while ago. If United are still in the Europa League and/or West Ham are still in the Conference League then it would be a Sunday kick-off. The Premier League held a meeting about the rearranged games in early December and United and Palace were informed well in advance of yesterday&aposs announcement they could be playing each other next week.

United won&apost let Elanga go if it leaves them light, Sancho will be reintegrated into the squad eventually and Van de Beek is a bit of a spare part. He&aposs started four times this season.

Q: Is there any news regarding the extension of Diogo Dalot&aposs contract? Are united delaying the contract talks because of the takeover?

SL: Nothing to do with the takeover. They will discuss a renewal. He deserves it.

Q: What are the thoughts surrounding the youth at the moment, particularly Amad with his performances for Sunderland this season – is there a potential thought of a recall? What about other youngsters, such as Charlie McNeill or Kobbie Mainoo – are there thoughts to loan them out or integrate them into the squad due to the lack of attacking options?

SL: I&aposve written about Amad at length a few times in the last four or five weeks. I think he&aposs got a chance of being back in the squad next season. He&aposs in very good form at the moment and the Sunderland fans love him.

McNeill is nowhere near ready for the first team and may never be. I thought Mainoo was the best of the Youth Cup prospects and he&aposll get a debut sooner or later.


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