Although Manchester United are well-equipped upfront with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani within their ranks, the club’s scouting team will almost certainly be working hard on building a shortlist of suitable replacements.
Not that there are many attainable immediate upgrades on either, but both are now at the tail end of their careers. Cavani looked set to return to his homeland in the summer, but eventually opted to sign a one-year extension in May, something that almost certainly won’t be repeated at the end of this season.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo will be entering the second season of his own two-year contract next summer and may not sign another based on the fact his current deal will expire when he turns 38.
Recent names linked with succeeding the two include Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as well as Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, the latter being an almost ever-present in the transfer speculation columns.
Yet due to the hype and roles both players have within their respective clubs, neither would come cheap, in fact they’d almost certainly come at a premium.
In the case of Haaland, it feels like the window of opportunity to sign him was two years ago when he was still playing for RB Salzburg. He was scoring goals at a similar rate to what he is now, however, he’d not yet rose to the superstar figure he is now with Dortmund.
Interestingly, though, United might be able to rectify that Haaland mistake by targeting one of his successors coming through at Salzburg now.
Karim Adeyemi is the latest exciting product of the RB talent factory and he already looks like he’s ready to go onto bigger a better things.
The forward started the 2019/20 season with Salzburg’s feeder club Leifering in the Austrian second division, however his displays with them saw him return to Salzburg’s first team by the time that campaign had concluded.
In his first full season last year, the forward netted an impressive nine goals, whilst also registering a further 11 assists across all competitions. That broke down to a remarkable goals contribution average of 1.39 per 90!
In the league alone, he was average 0.98 goals per 90 from an xG of 0.8. Relevance? It signals a decent over-performance based on chances created for him, but not one that you’d consider unsustainable.
That’s a point reaffirmed by the fact that there’s been no big drop off in his output this season, in fact, he looks more dangerous than ever, scoring 12 goals in 14 appearances so far.
Adeyemi’s good penalty box movement combined with Salzburg’s dominance in the Austrian Bundesliga means he is usually bestowed a good amount of chances per game. He averaged 6.77 touches in the box and 3.28 shots per 90 across all competitions last season.
Although these are high numbers, they are not ones that couldn’t be replicated at Old Trafford in this United side – Mason Greenwood attempted a team-high 3.31 shots per 90 in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side last season.
Any potential move would of course carry the ever-present risk that comes with players from such leagues like the Austrian top division – could they replicate their performances in a much tougher competition like the Premier League?
Yet a good gauge on that is how they perform in European competition, and strikingly Adeyemi has already scored three Champions League goals this season, plus he’s bagged a goal and assist for Germany’s senior squad too after making his debut only last month.
In terms of a profile, he’s smaller than Haaland, however, he’s still very quick, deceptively strong and a real handful for opposition defences. A big reason for that is his pace combined with dribbling skill.
Given his current ability at just 19, plus his potential ceiling, it won’t be long before Adeyemi explodes into stardom in the same way Haaland did before him.
Therefore the question is will United let another potential star bypass them or will they look to make a move now before his stock significantly rises?