Erik ten Hag may be expecting Manchester United to furnish him with finances to take on Man City in a bid to match up to their recent acquisition, Erling Haaland. And the Dutchman already has a target in mind.
Manchester United may be looking at Manchester City with envy after the latter confirmed the impending arrival of £51 million signing Erling Haaland.
Erik ten Hag, on the other hand, has every reason to be positive, having already discovered his own version.
After huge changes to the club’s hierarchy, the Dutchman will have finances to spend and influence that few previous Man United managers have had at Old Trafford this summer.
Darwin Nunez of Benfica has been in phenomenal form this season, scoring six goals in the Champions League.
He is said to be his primary target. Man City have dealt a blow to their rivals by signing Norwegian talent Haaland ahead of next season.
While Nunez may not have the same track record as him in terms of playing in a top-five European league, there is reason to believe the Uruguayan might be just as deadly.
The 22-year-old has performed admirably in the Champions League this season and was widely viewed as a major factor in Porto’s progress to the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Liverpool.
United scouts were in Lisbon in April to see Nunez score in the first leg, and he replicated the feat in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Anfield.
Demonstrating that he can score against harder opponents and is more than just another flat-track bully in the Primeira Liga.
He had the air of a traditional No.9 as he led the line, competing for aerial duels and harassing the Liverpool defense.
It’s safe to assume they don’t want to face him again next season. United will not be fooled into thinking Nunez is as excellent as Haaland just yet.
Nunez has shown considerable progress during his brief stint with Almeria in Spain in 2019.
However, given their comparable build, age, and goal-scoring ability, it’s tough not to compare the two-and if Nunez ends up at Old Trafford, it’ll be a fascinating clash.
Following United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, there are still worries over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club.
If Ten Hag is willing to let the Portuguese superstar go, replacing him with a proven striker like Nunez, who has 32 goals this season, will be critical.
Benfica have a £130 million buyout option in place to preserve their prized asset, who is valued at roughly £70 million.
United have shown in the past that they are prepared to invest in the right player, and it is critical that if Ten Hag wants him at any cost, the Red Devils put their money where their mouth is.
It would be a statement to sign Nunez ahead of other European teams, especially after City made a big signing with Haaland, a player they had sought in the red shirt.
Every season, the competition for the top four gets tougher, and United’s struggles this season reflect that.
Rangnick has already suggested that up to six new signings might be made this summer, but quality must take precedence over quantity when it comes to enhancing the team.
United are clearly trailing Man City and Liverpool at the moment, and Ten Hag may need at least two or three transfer windows to transform the team into true championship contenders.
However, reacting to City’s purchase of Haaland with a high-profile signing of their own would convey the message that United is serious about returning to the top in the coming years.