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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Man United striker target hits 40 goals in just 46 games, Ashworth knows him well

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Manchester United could certainly stand to learn a thing or two from Brighton and Hove Albion as far as recruitment goes.

While the Red Devils struggles in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era are a prime example of how not to run a football club, Brighton have often been held up as something of a model institution, bringing in Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister, Julio Enciso and co while Manchester United have tended to splurge eye-watering sums on seemingly inferior players.

Brighton tend to buy a lot with little. United, in contrast, buy little with a lot. But not even they get it right every single time.

Viktor Gyokeres made only eight first-team appearances for The Seagulls before Coventry City snapped him up back in 2021, reportedly for a fee around the £1 million mark. Three years on, and now plying his trade in Portugal for Sporting Lisbon, there is an almighty £86 million release clause in Gyokeres’ contract.

And perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid to the supreme Swede is that such a fee no longer fees quite so excessive. In fact, it’s about right.

  • READ MORE: Manchester United transfer history 2013 to present day

Viktor Gyokeres of Sporting CP celebrates scoring Sporting CP third  goal  during the Liga Portugal Betclic match between Sporting CP and FC Boavis...

Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Manchester United watching Viktor Gyokeres

The one-time Swansea City loanee took his tally to 40 for the season on Sunday night, almost single-handedly turning a 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 draw in the dying seconds away at FC Porto. Gyokeres was not really renowned for his heading ability at Coventry, tending the find the net instead with explosive finishes from either boot.

As he soared through the air and powered home a cross at the Estadio do Dragao, however, Gyokeres appeared to unlock another attribute. One which takes him that little bit closer to becoming ‘the complete number nine’.

His second of the game – and his 40th in just 46 games – came just seconds later. The classic poacher’s finish, tapped in at the back post after some outstanding link-play in the build-up.

To watch Gyokeres almost feels like playing FIFA with the stats altered, boosting the Stockholm-born 25-year-old’s pace and power while leaving the opposition untouched. Like Superman wrestling against a crowd of mortals. He simply looks quicker, sharper, stronger than anyone else he shares a pitch with these days.

A tally of 22 goals in 2024 alone, meanwhile, can only be equalled by PSG talisman Kylian Mbappe. And while the Portuguese Primeira Liga is not quite at the same level as it’s English equivalent, the immediate impact made by Luis Diaz, Ruben Dias and one Bruno Fernandes in Britain suggests that it is not out of the realms of possibility that Gyokeres could prove equally prolific at a top Premier League club.

  • READ MORE: Who is Rasmus Hojlund? Inside the life of Manchester United’s dynamic Danish forward

Could Viktor Gyokeres be United’s next striker

HITC reported a fortnight ago that Manchester United, who are in the market for a new centre-forward to ease the burden on Hojlund, have been alerted to Gyokeres’ scintillating performances over in Lisbon.

He has admirers at Ineos, and is known to the eventually-and-hopefully-imminently-incoming Dan Ashworth following their time together at Brighton.

Letting Gyokeres join Coventry for a rumoured £850,000 was, perhaps, one of the few mistakes Ashworth made during his time at the South Coast. He explained to Brighton’s website that Gyokeres, behind the likes of Danny Welbeck and Neal Maupay in the pecking order at the time, needed a club where minutes would be easier to come by, describing his switch to the Midlands as a ‘good move for Viktor’.

Two years, 40 goals and a £20 million move to Sporting later, Ashworth was certainly right about that.

Man United’s interest, meanwhile, could give one of the key figures in Ineos’ rebuild the chance to rectify one of the few decisions he may harbour some regrets about.

  • READ MORE: Who is Dan Ashworth? Meet the man who could be set to transform Manchester United

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