Erik ten Hag may be yet to officially join up with Manchester United but the incoming manager has already begun the process of rebuilding his squad, drawing up a shortlist of striker targets as he looks to revive the faltering giant.
Sources have told CBS Sports that Jonathan David and Darwin Nunez are two of the names on Ten Hag’s wish list as he looks to recruit a new center forward who can dovetail with and eventually succeed Cristiano Ronaldo, whose goal-scoring form has been one of the few bright spots in a dour season for United.
Sunday’s trip to Crystal Palace will see interim manager Ralf Rangnick battling to avoid bequeathing Ten Hag a season in the Europa Conference League in 2022-23; sixth placed United currently lead West Ham by two points after their worst ever Premier League campaign. Their new manager is expected to conduct a radical overhaul of the playing squad in the coming windows with Rangnick having described them as needing the footballing equivalent of “open heart surgery.”
With Edinson Cavani set to depart on the conclusion of his contract, Marcus Rashford’s future the matter of some doubt and Mason Greenwood suspended; United faced going into next season desperately reliant on 37 year old Ronaldo if they did not secure reinforcements.
Ten Hag, who is leaving Ajax to take over at Old Trafford, is understood to have been following David’s progress at Gent and Lille for some time. The Canada international has a host of admirers in the Premier League including Liverpool and Arsenal — though there has been no dialogue between the Gunners and David’s camp for some time now — and intends to leave Ligue 1 this summer.
Nunez, meanwhile, caught the attention of European football with his outstanding form for Benfica in the Champions League, where he scored six goals in 10 games. The Uruguayan has also been linked with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
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United are entering the market at a time of high demand for forwards across the Premier League’s so-called big six. Their crosstown rivals Manchester City have already secured their talisman for next season in Erling Haaland, whose arrival from Borussia Dortmund may well presage the departure of Gabriel Jesus.
Arsenal want the Brazil international but currently there is a sizeable impasse of around $25 million (£20 million) on the two sides’ valuations of the player, whose contract expires next season. The Gunners had been looking to pay around $44 million (£35 million) for Jesus. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is among the other striking options they have explored while CBS Sports reported last month that scouts for the north London side have also been tracking Victor Osimhen.
Both of those two players have been linked with Tottenham, who are expected to be in the market for a new forward this summer. Spurs have historically struggled to secure a high grade backup to Harry Kane and Heung-min Son but will be hoping that the carrot of Champions League football, which they will secure if they avoid defeat to Norwich on Sunday, will be enough to allow them to strengthen with top tier talent.