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Monday, February 6, 2023

Wout Weghorst desperate to join Manchester United in loan move

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Burnley and Besiktas are in discussions about cancelling Wout Weghorst’s loan after the Netherlands striker pleaded with the Turkish club to let him join Manchester United.

United made a surprise enquiry for Weghorst last week as their Dutch manager Erik ten Hag seeks urgent reinforcements in attack this month following Cristiano Ronaldo’s acrimonious exit in November.

Weghorst, 30, is thought to have informed Besiktas before their game against Kasimpasa on Saturday that the opportunity to join United at this stage of his career is not one he wants to pass up after being informed of the interest from Old Trafford. Weghorst appeared to say goodbye to the Besiktas fans after scoring in the game.

There is no recall clause in the terms of Weghorst’s season long loan arrangement from Burnley and Besiktas have the option to buy the striker for €10m in the summer but all parties are hopeful a deal can be done.

Having exceeded their transfer budget last season and with the club up for sale, United are seeking a low cost loan this month that would not involve any commitments to a potential signing beyond the end of the season.

“There could be a reward for us if we give our consent to the cancellation [of the loan deal with Burnley],” Besiktas football director Ceyhun Kazanci said. “For example, if Burnley told us: ‘Weghorst is moving to this team and we are giving you half of the fee’ we would sit down and talk to them.”

Weghorst signed for Burnley from Wolfsburg for £12 million last January and managed just two goals in 17 Premier League appearances as the Lancashire club were relegated from the top flight.

But he has nine goals in 18 games for Besiktas this season and starred for the Netherlands at the World Cup when he scored twice as a late substitute in their quarter-final against Argentina to take the game to extra-time before losing to the tournament’s eventual winners in a penalty shoot-out.

The other options for United

United, like Arsenal and Chelsea, have been offered Joao Felix. But United baulked at the high costs of doing a loan deal with Atletico Madrid for the Portugal forward.

Weghorst’s Dutch team-mate, Memphis Depay, the former Old Trafford striker now at Barcelona, is another, albeit different, attacking option but United are reluctant to agree to a deal that would offer any commitments beyond a six-month loan which could be a complication for some players.

United have also been linked with the Cameroon striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. But Bayern Munich are thought to have no interest in loaning Choupo-Moting given that he is out of contract at the end of the season and with the German club still hoping to extend the former Stoke striker’s deal.

Ten Hag is currently two forwards down, with Ronaldo gone and now at Al-Nassr having signed for the Saudi club as a free agent, and England winger Jadon Sancho still unavailable as he works his way back to fitness physically and mentally following an agreed absence.

The United manager wanted to sign Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven but the Netherlands forward instead joined Liverpool in a projected £44m deal last month.

Ten Hag had been told money would be tight this month given that the club spent around £75m more than planned last summer during a £227m splurge on six new signings and the uncertainty around the future of the club, with the Glazers looking to sell, is also a factor.

Although any potential change of ownership before the end of the season could have a significant impact on United’s summer transfer plans, Murtough said those preparations were gathering pace but also moved to measure expectations this month.

Speaking at the latest United fans’ forum on Dec. 13, Murtough said: “As always, the main focus remains on the summer window, and we’re already well under way with our planning for next summer.

“January is a difficult time to find players that teams are willing to let go. It’s no secret that we’re looking for a new centre-forward. We’ll see what’s possible in January but … we only want to bring in players who are good enough, and who will make the squad stronger.

“We’re not going to sign players for the sake of making signings. You also need to remember that we invested over £200 million in the squad last summer and, as a club, we need to remain financially disciplined and compliant with FFP rules.

“So, while we will be exploring options, I don’t expect it to be a busy January window on the men’s side.”

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