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Victor Osimhen, Mohammed Kudus – the latest on Man Utd’s striker search
Victor Osimhen dreams of playing in the Premier League and is being tracked by Manchester United and Chelsea. Although true Manchester City are also scouting him, their interest is less developed to date. The Nigerian has 19 Serie A goals in just 22 games.
A summer transfer is possible, but Osimhen is in no rush to leave Napoli. He has forged a prolific partnership with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Napoli are on a procession to the Serie A title and genuine Champions League contenders this season.
Napoli won’t sell Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia this summer. The Georgian, who is drawing attention from Manchester City and Newcastle, is likely to be offered improved terms making an Osimhen exit more likely out of the two.
As a result, Osimhen has a big decision to make. There will be big-money proposals and the Premier League is where he’s always wanted to play. That’s bad news for PSG, who can be termed another suitor.
It’s worth bearing in mind Napoli paid £62m (€70m) to Lille in 2020 via a mix of cash and players, plus a further £9m in bonuses. That’s why Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is demanding as high as double that initial outlay. That number is not thought to be realistic, but Osimhen could plausibly cost £100m+.
Manchester United desperately want a new flagship striker and tried for Osimhen before his move to Napoli. The Nigerian forward didn’t think the move was right due to fears over game time. Whereas his close friend Odion Ighalo, who was on loan at Manchester United at the time, was a factor in putting him off (since he felt like the Nigerian would be ahead of him for minutes), now Ighalo has told Osimhen Manchester United would be a strong fit. Manchester United are very serious about Osimhen.
The race is open for now, though. Off the high of an amazing season, Napoli will do all they can to keep him for another season or hold out for an astronomical fee. Chelsea, who also need a traditional forward, can’t be discounted either.
Manchester United have other options as well. They are monitoring the Harry Kane situation at Spurs. As previously reported, Kane ideally wants to stay put, which is why Spurs are calm about the situation. Daniel Levy is not entertaining any suitors at this point making the links with Manchester United premature. Manchester United know Levy won’t make things easy, as he proved when Manchester City came calling for Kane.
To get players with valuations like Osimhen and Kane, Manchester United will obviously need to spend big, and there are still plans to strengthen in other areas. So the priority is to qualify for the Champions League. That way even if the Glazers remain there will be a healthy budget to spend.
A lot of people presume any potential new outright owner, such as Sheikh bin Hamad Al Thani or Sir Jim Ratcliffe, will come in and finance a statement summer window. And broadly speaking, that’s true. But budget will always still be affected by Champions League football. Although Manchester United’s recruitment team can plan, and start legwork with players, they also can’t pre-spend money until they know if there is to be an ownership change. This is why the Glazers still ideally want the process complete by the end of the season. Uncertainty heading into the summer transfer window won’t be good for business, the stock price or recruitment, whatever happens in the process.
Manchester United also hold interest in Dusan Vlahovic, as reported in December. Chelsea are also looking. There is a real opportunity this summer to get a deal done. Roma’s Tammy Abraham can’t be ruled out either.
And Mohammed Kudus is a genuine possibility as well, which shows Manchester United are lining up lots of options. This is normal when you know top players will be tricky to negotiate for and there are a range of other serious suitors.
Manchester United actually looked at Kudus in January, but never advanced anything. Erik ten Hag is a big fan having worked with the Ghanaian at Ajax. We saw at the World Cup just how clinical and intelligent Kudus is. He has a tremendous touch and is very aware of his surroundings. He currently has 18 goals in 35 games for Ajax in all competitions.
Kudus is one to watch for sure, but ten Hag must first decide if he’s the right positional fit. Kudus has been playing as a forward for Ajax, but actually prefers an attacking midfield role. Although versatility is always welcome, Manchester United’s key priority is an out-and-out striker. An automatic goalscorer is more important than a flexible playmaker right now. Kudus could be that, but he’s been clear in the past where he wants to play.
Newcastle have genuine interest in £35-40m Kieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney could leave Arsenal after seeing his minutes diminished this season. Oleksandr Zinchenko has taken his place. Mikel Arteta not only trusts the Ukrainian, but views him as a ball winner and leader. As a result Tierney has made just four Premier League starts.
Tierney held face-to-face talks with Arteta to better understand his future and was encouraged to fight for his place. So an exit is not guaranteed. Even Arteta is still undecided whether to let him go, but it will also come down to whether Tierney is satisfied to be a squad player.
Arsenal would demand a fee in excess of the £25m they paid Celtic in 2019. £35-40m is probably the starting point, especially given Tierney is healthily contracted until 2026. Let’s not forget he was Real Madrid-linked for £50m only a year ago.
Newcastle’s interest is genuine. Left-back is an area Eddie Howe knows he needs to strengthen. I am told Tierney ideally wants European football still, which should rule out Aston Villa despite some links. Villa boss Unai Emery was the manager who brought Tierney to Arsenal, so it’s natural he’s keeping tabs on the situation. Keep an eye on Monaco as well, especially if Caio Henrique leaves. There are suitors tracking the Brazilian despite him signing a new deal last summer until 2027.
Nothing has been discussed with Juventus despite suggestions Tierney could be offered as part of a swap deal for Manuel Locatelli. Arsenal enquired about Locatelli last summer but were told he wanted to stay at Juventus. Nothing has changed. Juve’s obligation to buy kicks in this summer and even if forced to sell players, Locatelli isn’t one they want to lose.