Manchester United targeting younger center forward amid Erling Haaland interest

Manchester United intended to sign a younger striker in the summer amid their reliance on the aging Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani.

Ronaldo turned 37 last week while Cavani celebrates his 35th birthday on Valentine’s Day and the Uruguayan is expected to leave United when his contract expires in June.

United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has recommended the club re-attempt to sign Erling Haaland after he rejected United in favor of Borussia Dortmund in 2019. Manchester City and Real Madrid remain the frontrunners to sign the Norwegian, whose €75million release clause becomes active in the summer.

Cavani replaced Ronaldo at Burnley on Tuesday night in what was United’s second of seven games within a 22-day period. Rangnick conceded the club needed to recruit a younger attacker ahead of next season.

“This is obvious,” Rangnick said. “Edinson’s contract is running out in the summer and the club needs the best possible center forward. This is an obvious one. I think everyone is aware of that.”

United were poised to sign Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg in December 2019 but tried to cut his adviser Mino Raiola out of the deal and Raiola engineered a €20m move to Dortmund. United claimed they refused to agree to a buyout clause and percentage of future sales.

Haaland, 21, has plundered 80 goals in 79 games for Dortmund and seems destined to leave in the summer. City lack a formidable No.9 and Madrid met Raiola and Haaland’s father Alf-Inge last year. Bayern Munich are also interested as Robert Lewandowski approaches the final year of his contract.

United have scored 16 goals in 12 games under Rangnick and only managed to score more than eleven in three matches. Their profligate finishing was costly in the successive 1-1 draws with Burnley and Middlesbrough but suspect officiating also contributed.

The Video Assistant Referee decided not to penalize Duncan Watmore for handball in the FA Cup fourth round defeat to Middlesbrough while United had a goal disallowed by VAR, who checked for a foul by Harry Maguire before then penalizing the United captain as he was offside and had influenced the play.

Asked if he has requested clarification on the decision-making from the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), Rangnick said: “No, I wouldn’t even know who to speak to. I don’t think it would change anything.

“Of course, we were extremely unlucky with those decisions, both the handball against Middlesbrough and the two disallowed goals at Burnley, but this is also football, we have to learn and deal with it.

“We would’ve wished those decisions to be different but, in the end, they were as they were and even if I call somebody now this would not change anything with regard to the result.

“We have to put our full focus on those things we can influence and what we can influence is the development that has already taken place and make sure that this will happen again in the next couple of weeks, to make sure that we improve our performances and we create as many chances as we possibly can and only allow a minimum of opportunities to the other team.

“It sounds pretty simple but that’s what it’s about: to create as many chances as we possibly can and allow the other team as few as possible, only one or two per game. Under normal circumstances, then you also win the games.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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