Manchester United are considering signing two new centre forwards in the summer to address their long-standing issues in front of goal, 90min understands.
United are one point from confirming their qualification for next season’s Champions League and can rubber stamp their return to the competition by avoiding defeat at home to Chelsea on Thursday night, in their penultimate league game of the season. Fulham visit Old Trafford on Sunday before United’s showdown with Manchester City in the FA Cup final on June 3.
Notably, Erik ten Hag’s side have only managed 52 goals in the league over 36 games – the second lowest total in the top half of the table. Ten Hag has often criticised his team’s inability to kill matches off while leading, and United followed a similar trend in their 1-0 win over Bournemouth last weekend.
The Dutchman is keen for United to address the problem over the summer and as 90min has reported, Tottenham talisman Harry Kane is the club’s top transfer target.
Despite Kane’s 28 league goals this season, Spurs have endured a miserable season which will see them finish between seventh and ninth in the table – and likely out of Europe altogether. Kane has one year left on his deal with Spurs and United sense a better opportunity than ever before to finally sign one of their most-wanted players from the past decade.
It’s understood that there is not huge confidence at United that they will be able to secure a deal for Kane with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, who has garnered a reputation for being a tough negotiator even dating back to the days where United signed Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov from the north London club.
Tottenham want a minimum of £100m for Kane and while United will explore if they can pull off the move, 90min understands they will be prepared to move on to other targets should Spurs drag their heels. Tottenham run the risk of losing Kane for free in a year’s time should they be unable to convince Kane to extend his contract, so Kane is in a more powerful position than at any time before.
Ten Hag wants United to secure their targets as early as possible in the summer, ideally in time for their pre-season tour of the US and certainly before the Premier League resumes in August. The uncertainty over the club’s ownership situation complicates the matter further but United have already identified their targets – it will soon be about making advances.
Any fee for Kane would likely break United’s transfer record, and while the club also hold interest in Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, his price is understood to be a significant stumbling block. There are fears in the club that a deal for the Nigerian could reach £130m – a near £40m increase on their current transfer record, and such an outlay would limit their options to strengthen in other areas.
Both Kane and Osimhen are in a first “box” of targets which comprises of ready-made options to fill the central striking void, with Inter’s Lautaro Martinez and Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic also considered. 90min reported in January of United’s early interest in the Serbian, who could be the most attainable of the four at present, despite Juventus’ public statement that the player is not for sale.
United have been following Vlahovic since before his move to Turin, which hasn’t gone to plan for the 23-year-old, and there is growing confidence that he would like to join – there are certainly indications from the player’s camp that he would like to move to England. Those within United aren’t deterred by the difficult spell at Juventus and have confidence that a coach like Ten Hag could, as he has done with a number of players at United to date, bring the best out of the player.
Vlahovic’s price would likely sit in the £70m-£80m range and allow United room for manoeuvre with other options, and while central midfield is a high priority position to strengthen, United would like there to be room in the budget to put towards a second centre forward from a second “box” of younger options.
Evan Ferguson is liked by United but recently signed a new deal with Brighton and looks unattainable this year, while Rasmus Hojlund, Santiago Gimenez and Goncalo Ramos are among other promising striking prospects who could integrate into the squad in the long term. Benjamin Sesko and Mohammed Kudus also come recommended by club scouts.
Kudus in particular finds himself in an interesting situation, having already worked with Ten Hag at Ajax, while he can play in a number of positions – from both the right side and at number 10 as well as through the middle. The Ghanaian would offer United valuable versatility, which they lack in both the central and right sided positions in attack.
The player’s agent recently stated that this summer is the “right time” for Kudus and Ajax to part ways, while he has also rejected the option to extend his deal through 2026. Ajax may be more willing sellers to United or any other interested party, such as Newcastle United, this summer compared to last, given they are unlikely at best to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“I think it is best for both Ajax and Mohammed that he makes a transfer now. Now is the right time,” said Kudus’ agent, Jennifer Mendelewitsch, to De Telegraaf. “He has ignored a proposal to extend his contract until the summer of 2026. What I can say is that after the World Cup and this season there is a lot of interest in Kudus.”
Kudus’ price is likely to fall in the £30m-£40m range and would represent a valuable, versatile outlet that Ten Hag is familiar with, who could also fit into the shape of the squad alongside a more established name to take the burden of scoring the goals.
He would also represent a younger alternative to Neymar, who United have been linked with this week in France. It’s understood by 90min that United are being kept informed on the Brazilian’s future developments – as is commonplace for leading clubs and high profile players – but there is no active interest on United’s end.
United see their attack as the primary area to fix before next season, as Wout Weghorst’s loan will end in early June and Anthony Martial, who signed for United eight years ago, is a player United are actively looking to sell. The Frenchman has struggled for the duration of the season with injuries and Ten Hag has internally indicated his willingness to part with the player.