Every team needs a backup striker – someone ready to sit on the bench and fight for their chance to impress – and Manchester United are no different. They brought in Odion Ighalo for exactly that reason, but the Nigerian might not be around for much longer.
Parent club Shanghai Shenhua are eager to bring Ighalo back as soon as possible, and although United are working to extend the loan into next season, that might not be possible.
Sure, replacing him with a big-money signing would be the dream, but with the focus being on improving other areas of the squad, money is no longed unlimited.
If United do lose Ighalo this summer, here are six ‘budget’ options they could turn to to replace him.
Edinson Cavani didn’t get too many opportunities at Paris Saint-Germain this season as loanee Mauro Icardi dominated the lineup. Now that the Argentine has sealed a permanent switch to the Parc des Princes, Cavani’s time at the club looks to be over.
His contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and with a renewal in Paris looking unlikely, United would be wise to move in. His wage demands might be fairly high, but with no transfer fee to pay at least, it can be done.
The 33-year-old is still a prolific, deadly striker who is capable of scoring goals out of nothing, and his experience would only benefit Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.
Signing Luka Jović permanently is neither feasible nor sensible this summer, but striking a loan deal for the struggling Serb might be a smart piece of business.
We haven’t seen the best of Jović during his year with Real Madrid, and Los Blancos might just be interested in sending him out on loan before his value plummets even further. A chance to rediscover his best form with United could be best for everyone.
The Jović who bagged 27 goals in 48 games for Eintracht Frankfurt was among the scariest strikers around, and he could be a valuable addition to the furniture at Old Trafford.
Mario Götze’s time at Borussia Dortmund will be coming to an end this summer, and although he isn’t the bruising striker which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking for, the German could bring something new to the team.
His high-pressing style would help United remain on the front foot during games, forcing defenders into making mistakes deep in their own half. While he might not be the man to score the chances which get created, the fact that opportunities will arise should be good enough.
Even if there are no minutes at striker to come by, Götze could drop deeper into midfield and try pull the strings with his passing. It’s a signing which could boost several areas.
Easily the biggest risk on this list, D’Mani Mellor would also be the cheapest option as he would only need the call-up from the academy.
The 19-year-old was part of the young group who travelled to face Astana in the Europa League in November 2019, and although he still has some growing to do, why not let him do that with the first team?
Solskjaer is not afraid to turn to youngsters when needed, so Mellor would still see plenty of minutes, and it could turn into a stroke of genius.
If the goal is to lure bruising strikers back to the Premier League from China, then turning to Salomón Rondón should be high up on the agenda.
Always up for a physical battle, Rondón comes with 140 games of Premier League experience and is exactly the kind of reserve striker United need.
Similar to Ighalo, a loan deal for Rondón would see United cover a large part of his wages, and an option to buy would allow United to make it permanent if the Venezuelan comes up trumps.
It’s been a tough year for Teemu Pukki, who began the season as a Ballon d’Or contender and is likely to end it by dropping back to the Championship.
In a Norwich City team which has struggled for goals, Pukki has still managed to hit double figures. The 30-year-old can hang in the top flight, albeit not as a starter for somebody like United.
If the Canaries drop down, Pukki could well be available for pennies, and that’s what should make him so appealing to United. He wouldn’t expect consistent minutes, yet would still be a reliable goal threat when on the pitch. The dream.