Speaking at United’s hot-weather training camp near Jerez, Spain, Ten Hag, when asked if he was looking for a striker, replied: “Yes, but only when we find the right one. player. We will do everything in our power. We research every opportunity and we will do everything we can (to sign them) if the opportunity arises.
Ten Hag is known to be a fan of Benfica Goncalo Ramos — the man who replaced Ronaldo in the Portugal team in world Cup and duly scored a hat-trick, and also think PSV Eindhoven Cody Gakpo to be a very good player.
Asked about Gapko, Ten Hag said: “I can’t comment on specific players. I will never do that. Players have contracts and I respect that, but make sure we’re working behind the scenes to bring in the right players.
For United to make a move towards a striker in January, two conditions must be met: the player must be guaranteed to improve the team and must also be affordable.
Erik ten Hag: ‘Ronaldo told me he wanted to stay in the summer. The interview changed that’
On the first condition – Ronaldo was a big-name signing, but there were still question marks over whether he had actually improved the team. United must learn from this. Compared to the second, the club’s finances were first strained by the pandemic and then by the heavy summer expenses. They won’t spend the money they don’t have now.
Ten Hag knows it’s not easy to find a striker who meets these two conditions, so the prospect of the club bringing in someone to replace Ronaldo is far from certain.
But the fact remains that fifth-placed United lack firepower up front. They have scored just 20 league goals in 14 games so far this season, half of the runners-up tally. Manchester City.
No United player is in the top 20 of the list of premier league top scorers this season. The club’s top scorer Marcus Rashford, has just four goals to his name. Ronaldo was United’s top scorer last season with 18 league goals, but managed just one this season before leaving the club.
Explained: Manchester United quarterly accounts
Above all, Antony Martial, who has only started two Premier League games this season due to injury, has returned to form. Ten Hag and United will hope he can deliver in the second half of the season – whether or not the club signs a striker in January.
Ten Hag loves Martial but is wary of his recent poor injury record. “The first challenge for him is to be available and fit which he has to be responsible for. But we have to support him in every way we can,” the United manager said.
“We have seen that when he is available he has a huge impact on our game. He has 350 minutes, four goals and two assists. He is a very good record.
Asked if Martial was happy at United after his time on the sidelines, Ten Hag replied: “I think he is, but he was so disappointed he didn’t have a chance. with the injury.
“In the past maybe it was something he did wrong, I don’t know, but now it was also bad luck and you come into an injury process and now we have to stop the process and we catch him and he puts himself in a better position for him to be fit and available for his game and his development and progression, that would be great.
When asked if he puts a supporting arm around Martial, Ten Hag replied, “Sometimes not just with him. Players need it and need to be supported.
If United sign a striker in January, he and Martial will need all the support in the world if United are to move up the ranks.
Cristiano Ronaldo – what happens now?
(Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)