Victor Osimhen and five Man Utd transfer alternatives to signing Harry Kane

The England captain may be out of reach for Erik ten Hag so who else should United turn to?

Ciaran McLoughlin
Tuesday 27 June 2023 07:27 BST
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Harry Kane and Manchester United transfer links have been a long running saga for a number of years now, with the England captain up until now choosing to stay in North London with Tottenham Hotspur.

But, at 29 years old, Kane will surely know that this may be his last chance at a big move, especially given Spurs’ failure last season to qualify for Europe.

United are on the lookout for a new No.9 this summer and much might point to Erik ten Hag’s side angling towards trying to lure Kane to Old Trafford.

However, given some of the other clubs vying for his signature, such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, the Red Devils may have to look for forward options elsewhere.

Here, have ranked five alternative players Ten Hag may look to bring in, based on domestic league ratings from last season, if his side are unable to sign Kane.

Rasmus Hojlund (Atalanta) – 6.67 (league only rating, 2022/23)

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Since the turn of the year, Rasmus Hojlund has continued to improve as he has gained more and more gametime, but it was back in March when people really started to take notice. He was handed his first international start for Denmark in a Euro 2024 qualifier against Finland, in which he proceeded to score a hat-trick in a 3-1 win, before following that up three days later with a brace in defeat to Kazakhstan.

Since then, the 20-year-old has caught the attention of a number of top clubs and has proven to be just as effective at club level, scoring nine goals and registering two assists last season for Atalanta in Serie A, despite making only 20 starts. The fact that only nine other players could better his 141 touches in the opposition box in Serie A last season would suggest that he’s getting in the right positions and has the capabilities to progress even further in the Premier League.

Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) – 6.96

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If Premier League experience is a key factor, then Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins could be the perfect fit at Old Trafford. The former Brentford striker struggled under Steven Gerrard at the start of last season and there were times where he had to settle for starts on the wings, similar to his time with the Bees.

But since Unai Emery’s arrival, Watkins has thrived as the main man up top, ending the season with 15 league goals to his name. Though this may have been half of the tally that Kane (30) finished on, the impressive thing is the effectiveness by which Watkins took his chances. Since the start of 2023, of those players to have 50+ shots in the Premier League, his conversion rate (21.8%) ranked third, behind only Erling Haaland (24.6%) and Kane (23.9%) himself.

Watkins has been full of confidence since the start of the new year and if United are able to get the England forward in this sort of form consistently, they would have a clinical striker on their hands.

Goncalo Ramos (Benfica) – 7.28

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Stepping in for one of the greatest footballers of all time is no easy task, but that was exactly what Goncalo Ramos did in his first start for his country when replacing Cristiano Ronaldo - and in some extraordinary fashion too. Up against Switzerland in a World Cup round of 16 tie, Ramos started over Ronaldo and in doing so helped Portugal advance to the next round by scoring a hat-trick in a 6-1 win.

This was a statement game which really helped to announce Ramos to the world and throughout last season in Portugal’s Primeira Liga he similarly stepped up in the absence of Darwin Nunez for Benfica, on their way to winning the league. He scored 19 goals, which only Mehdi Taremi (22) could better - though the latter did play 329 more minutes.

Ramos’ hold-up play is also a key asset to his game and would suit Ten Hag’s side, being able to link up with United’s forward options, such as Marcus Rashford, to create chances.

Randal Kolo Muani (Frankfurt) – 7.29

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Randal Kolo Muani would offer a versatile option who can contribute in a number of ways to an attack. The Frenchman was one of eight players in Europe’s top five leagues last season who recorded double figures for both goals (15) and assists (11) in what was his first season playing for Eintracht Frankfurt.

Kolo Muani’s ability on the ball, which saw him record the fifth most successful dribbles (70) in the Bundesliga last term, means he is an adaptable player who can play across the front line, whether in a deeper role or even on the wing. That said, he was mainly deployed in a central role last season, which probably got the best out of his capabilities. The positions he takes up in the box highlight the threat he carries on the ball, registering at least 34 more touches in the opposition box (220) than any other player in the 22/23 Bundesliga.

If United were to sign Kolo Muani, they would be getting an all-rounder in terms of his capabilities in the final third, allowing for more adjustability in the way Ten Hag sets his team up, making it difficult for opposition defences to contend with.

Victor Osimhen (Napoli) – 7.45

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After a season in which he helped to guide Napoli to a first Serie A title since 1990 and reach the Champions League quarter-finals, Victor Osimhen is in high demand from a number of clubs around Europe and it will take a lot to prise him away from Naples.

Osimhen (26) was the top goalscorer in Italy’s top flight last season and across Europe’s top five leagues was the fifth highest. The Nigerian international is an out and out No.9 who thrives by having a creative outlet behind him, which allows him to be a constant threat in the area, conveyed by his touches in the opposition box (245) - also the fifth-highest in Europe’s top five leagues last season.

For Napoli last year, he had the likes of Piotr Zielinski, who registered the most key passes (84) in Serie A, and of course Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who created the second most big chances (14) and accumulated the most assists (ten) in the division. This is key to getting the best out of Osimhen and why only Kylian Mbappe (149) recorded more than his 135 shots in Europe’s top five leagues last season.

Despite his high volume of shots, his conversion rate was 19.3% and ranked in the top ten among Europe’s top five leagues, among players to register 80 or more shots. The Red Devils need a clinical goalscorer and at the minute, there aren’t many better than Osimhen, who with Bruno Fernandes’ creative flair behind would flourish in a Manchester United shirt.

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