Many Manchester United fans are eager to see the club bring in a striker in January, and it seems the obvious tack given current circumstances.
Anthony Martial will miss a 14th game already this season due to injury when FC Sheriff travel to Old Trafford. And while Cristiano Ronaldo has been welcomed back into the squad after his exclusion against Chelsea, his future is unclear.
Some moot he will leave in January, believing this will prompt Erik ten Hag to dip into the market for another striker. They may be left disappointed.
The Reds boss could likely see the right-back situation as a more pressing matter due to the fact he is currently thin of options in the position. Diogo Dalot has played every game so far this campaign and to think he could carry this on for the rest of the term seems wishful.
United could play a maximum of 67 games this season when FA Cup replays are included. While they are unlikely to go the distance in every competition, they are expected to push for the Europa League which would require a 15-game campaign.
Runs in the cups are hoped for too, meaning United may not be too far off that total. All this to say that Dalot needs ample cover and competition. Ten Hag clearly doesn’t see Aaron Wan-Bissaka as the answer to this issue, and was willing to allow him an exit in the summer if a suitable buyer came forward.
The Englishman – yet to make an appearance this season – is deemed a considerable drop down from Dalot, who has flourished under his new boss.
All other areas of the pitch have healthy competition. While the forward picture isn’t fantastic, Ten Hag will have at least two options in attack even if Ronaldo leaves. Moreover – hopefully – by January, Martial will be back fit and on song.
Another factor that will dictate Ten Hag’s market activity will be what transfer budget he’s handed in the new year. Reports suggest it could be a heavily limited one given the summer’s mass expenditure.
United do need a quality, long-term striker but he will likely cost just as much as the £85m Antony did, if not more. It’s doubtful that the board will hand Ten Hag such an amount in January.
So the boss, who is always keen on waiting for the right man, may wait until the summer when there will be more money to spend and more options available.
January is traditionally a hard time to prise star forwards away from their clubs, and usually only do so for high prices midway through a campaign. Ultimately, it’s a case of what United can afford, and which area would be more fragile should the first-choice pick become unavailable.
It’s more probable that a right-back, not a centre-forward, arrives at Old Trafford next which is something that may underwhelm some supporters but is where ‘in Ten Hag we trust’ becomes realised.