Erik ten Hag hunting cut-price solution to Manchester United’s striker hole

United missed out on Cody Gakpo and are searching for a Cristiano Ronaldo replacement in the January transfer window

Richard Jolly
Senior Football Writer
Friday 30 December 2022 22:30 GMT
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure has left Erik ten Hag with a striking vacancy to fill at Old Trafford
Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure has left Erik ten Hag with a striking vacancy to fill at Old Trafford (PA Wire)

Erik ten Hag has vowed to get creative in his bid to find Manchester United a striker for a cut-price fee in the January transfer window.

United’s funds are limited as they look for a replacement for the departed Cristiano Ronaldo after they spent over £200 million in the summer.

They missed out on PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo, a player Ten Hag liked, after Liverpool were able to meet the £35 million asking price for the Netherlands international, and United will consider loan signings in their attempt to bolster their attack.

Ten Hag said: “It is always difficult, strikers are expensive and especially in the winter. You set the limits high so maybe we have to be creative. We will do everything in our power to get it done and get the right player who fits the balance. It is about timing, availability, about so many circumstances that play a role.”

The Dutchman will decide whether to bring Lisandro Martinez back into the team to face Wolves on Sunday and he thinks United can benefit from having a buoyant World Cup winner in their ranks.

He added: “It is definitely a boost, he already is a player who is confident of himself and has high belief. This experience will strengthen him even more and he has to bring it to the squad.”

Ten Hag warned Martinez that forwards will be still more determined to get the better of him now that he is a World Cup winner but feels the centre-back can reach another level again.

“I know there is high potential and if he works good then he can have huge space for improvement,” he explained. “Now he is returning from the World Cup with another challenge; that experience is so emotional and now you have to manage that as a player. Opponents will be even tougher against him but he likes challenges.”

Ten Hag is confident that World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez will help Man Utd in the season’s second half
Ten Hag is confident that World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez will help Man Utd in the season’s second half (EPA)

Ten Hag delivered a veiled criticism of some of the other teams in Qatar as he urged United to copy the example of Martinez’s national team. “Argentina played to win in contrast to several other nations who played not to lose,” he said.

Jadon Sancho remains unavailable for United after Ten Hag deemed the winger was not ready mentally or physically. He had been training away from his teammates as the manager works out when to bring him back into the group.

Ten Hag added: “Of course there is coming a time but the time is not now, he is making progress, we will see when he is ready. He is back in Manchester. He will start in individual training.”

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