Manchester United may already be able to afford Atalanta’s Rasmus Højlund if Erik ten Hag takes a risk with his midfield selection.
Manchester United‘s opening pre-season fixture against Leeds was a show certainly stolen by Erik ten Hag‘s young guns. The tie saw Ten Hag field 16 youth players, with the second-half XI made up of 11 of the academy’s brightest.
While Noam Emeran was the obvious standout with his goal and assist to win the game, there were two other players who really stood out – Kobbie Mainoo in the first half, and Isak Hansen-Aarøen in the second.
In the opening 45, Mainoo played the deepest of the middle three, helping to link between the centre-backs and attacking line, and he was fantastic against the Championship side.
In the second 45, Hansen-Aarøen played a more attacking role, and his great display accumulated in an assist for the opening goal, where he played a perfectly-weighted through-ball for Emeran to latch on to and open the scoring.
Now, in the transfer market, the club are looking to sign both a second midfielder as well as a new first-team striker. United have been fairly consistently linked to Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, with the player said to be the option The Reds will go for once they are able to have the time to focus on a midfield signing.
However, as many may point out, a striker should actually be the highest priority option. Aside from the signing of André Onana, which is due to be concluded by the end of this week, United are in desperate need of a more reliable source of goals – someone to stand up front and centre and knock the ball in the back of the net.
The issue surrounding Højlund is that United are ‘unwilling to’ (but more like they can’t afford to) meet Atalanta’s demands for Højlund, but this could change if Erik ten Hag takes a risk. United have reportedly been quoted with a fee of around £20 million in order to acquire Amrabat, and have had an alleged £35m bid for Højlund rejected.
With Atlanta wanting £50-55m for their star boy striker, if Erik ten Hag was to entrust that Mainoo and Hansen-Aarøen can pull their weight in some minor fixtures, Amrabat’s signature may not be necessary. United would then have the funds to secure the signings of both Højlund and Onana and subsequently upgrade their squad in just the places required.
Mainoo and Hansen-Aarøen will almost certainly be involved in United’s pre-season fixture against Lyon next Wednesday, and should they perform to the same standard or higher once again, could book their seat on the plane to the USA section of United’s eight-game pre-season fixture list.
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