Erik ten Hag may be expecting Manchester United to provide him with the funds to face Man City after conquering Erling Haaland and the Dutchman already has a target in sight
There may be some envious looks from Manchester United towards their neighbors Manchester City after they announced the imminent arrival of £51million Erling Haaland. But Erik ten Hag has every reason to be optimistic as he has already identified his own version.
The Dutchman will have funds to spend and power not many previous Man United managers have enjoyed at Old Trafford this summer following a sea change in the club’s hierarchy. And his first target is said to be Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, who has been in sensational form this season, scoring six goals in the Champions League.
Man City have dealt a blow to their rivals with the landing of Norwegian star Haaland ahead of next season. And while Nunez isn’t quite up to par in terms of his record in one of Europe’s top five leagues, there’s every indication the Uruguayan could be just as deadly. The 22-year-old has impressed in the Champions League this season and was seen as the main reason behind Portugal’s progress to the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Liverpool.
United scouts were in Lisbon in April to see Nunez score in the first leg and he repeated the trick, scoring at Anfield in a thrilling 3-3 draw, proving he could score against tougher opponents and more than just another primeira league is flat track bully. He led the line with the aura of a classic No9, challenging aerial duels and harrying Liverpool defences. It’s fair to say they wouldn’t like facing him again next season.
United won’t delude themselves that Nunez is as good as Haaland just yet. The Norwegian’s rise to become one of football’s deadliest strikers has been meteoric, while Nunez has improved significantly since his brief stint in Spain with Almeria in 2019. But the pair’s similar stature, age and goal-scoring ability make it difficult not to compare them – and if Nunez ends up at Old Trafford it would prove an entertaining fight.
There are also lingering doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club after United failed to qualify for the Champions League. The 37-year-old has scored 24 goals in all competitions and those goals will be difficult to replace. So if Ten Hag are ready to let the Portuguese superstar go, replacing him with a proven goalscorer like Nunez – who has scored 32 goals this season – will be crucial.
As reported by Mirror Football, Benfica value the 22-year-old at around £70m and have a £130m buyout clause to protect their precious assets. United have a history of showing they are willing to invest for the right player and it’s crucial the Red Devils pull out their checkbook when Ten Hag wants him at all costs. After seeing City sign a marquee deal with Haaland, a player they once wanted in the red shirt, it would be a statement to cap Nunez ahead of several European clubs.
The race for the top four gets harder each season and United’s struggles this season reflect that. Rangnick has already hinted there could be ‘up to six new arrivals’ this summer but quality must prevail over quantity when it comes to adding to the squad.
There’s no doubt United are way behind Man City and Liverpool at the moment and Ten Hag may need at least two or three transfer windows to turn the club back into a real title challenger. But responding to City’s signing of Haaland with a big-name arrival of their own would send the message that United are serious about returning to the top spot in the years to come.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/man-utd-darwin-nunez-haaland-26929692 Man Utd can sign their own Erling Haaland by landing Erik ten Hag's top goal