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Is Erling Haaland the solution to Manchester United's striker dilemma?

Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League
Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League
Vyshakh K
ANALYST
Modified 23 Mar 2021
Feature

The centre-forward dilemma at Manchester United is an interesting situation. In recent times, Robin van Persie, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Romelu Lukaku were all prolific for the club but for no longer than a season. A club the size of Manchester United should ideally be fielding a consistent goalscorer upfront but currently, they lack one.

Manchester United signed Edinson Cavani on deadline day last summer to help with their striker dilemma but the move reeked of desperation. Cavani had been a free agent since July 1st but only signed for Manchester United in October. The club failed to sign Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and later tried unsuccessfully to crack a loan deal for FC Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele. They eventually settled for Cavani as a solution to their lack of attacking options up front.

To his credit, the Uruguayan has done well whenever he has played - scoring seven goals in 13 starts. But at 34, Cavani is in the twilight of his career and his injury issues make him an unreliable long-term option for the club. He has missed eight of United's last ten games and has received a lot of flak after he withdrew from the squad traveling to Italy to face AC Milan at the eleventh hour.

His father Luis has also cast doubt over his son's future, saying "he doesn't feel comfortable" in Manchester and could move to Argentine giants Boca Juniors this summer.

Burnley v Manchester United - Premier League
Burnley v Manchester United - Premier League

Fellow forward Anthony Martial has found goals hard to come by. The Frenchman, who eclipsed the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career last season, has also had to deal with injuries and a lack of goalscoring form.

There's no doubt about Martial's quality. He's full of flair and a scorer of great goals. However, Martial is in his sixth season at Old Trafford and is yet to cement his place in the starting XI. Like Cavani, he has only found the back of the net seven times this season, but it has taken him 43 matches as opposed to Cavani, who has played 26 games. Had he been more clinical, United perhaps wouldn't be 11 points off the top of the Premier League table.

With Cavani’s future uncertain and Martial not providing enough goals, Manchester United may be in the hunt for a centre-forward this summer.

Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga
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Is Erling Haaland the solution to Manchester United's centre-forward dilemma?

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's personal equation with Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland is well-documented. The pair worked together during their stint together at Molde and the two have remained in touch despite going their separate ways.

Haaland was reportedly close to joining Manchester United in January 2020. But demands from his agent Mino Raiola, who also represents Paul Pogba, stalled the deal and the Norwegian striker moved to Germany and has since become the most sought-after footballer on the planet. The young striker has scored 49 goals in 49 games for Borussia Dortmund and is on the wishlist of seemingly every top team in Europe.

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Manchester United remain interested in Haaland but will have to go up against the world's biggest clubs in the race for his signature. The striker has a release clause that doesn't kick in until next year and hence signing him this summer would be an expensive affair. If Manchester United do decide to cough up Borussia Dortmund's asking price, it will eat up the majority of their transfer budget.

Haaland could be the long-term solution to Manchester United's goalscoring woes and his relationship with Solskjaer certainly gives the club an edge in the race for the striker. But they need to move quickly if they are to acquire his services as the biggest clubs in Europe, including those in England, continue to monitor the young superstar.

Published 23 Mar 2021, 03:16 IST
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