Sir Jim Ratcliffe has completed his £1.3billion purchase of a 25% share in Manchester United, which isn’t expected to have much impact on the club’s transfer budget – but that hasn’t stopped a glut of players being linked with a move to Old Trafford.
This week, the United board are expected to approve a deal to make Ratcliffe a minority shareholder. The British billionaire would take over running the sporting side of the business, but FFP makes it difficult for him to pump in huge funds for transfers.
But the rumour mill doesn’t run on nuance, so we’ve picked out seven top players who have been linked with United over the past few days.
After declining to bid for Harry Kane, United invested big money in Rasmus Hojlund this summer – only to see the Denmark international fail to score in the Premier League
But, with Marcus Rashford failing to catch fire and Anthony Martial still consistently injured, Erik ten Hag is keen to add to his squad’s firepower upfront.
Only Sheffield United have scored less goals than United this season and you’d certainly back Osimhen to rectify that statistic; the Nigeria striker plundered 31 goals during Napoli’s Scudetto-winning campaign and is on the shopping list of every top European club.
He’d likely cost north of £100million, but United would consider that a worthwhile investment for a 24-year-old guarantor of goals.
Built like an industrial-sized fridge, but blessed with the feet of a ballerina, Ferguson is one of Europe’s most in-demand strikers after his exploits for Brighton and the Republic of Ireland.
United made a £50million bid to sign the 19-year-old this summer, an offer which Brighton laughed off. They’ll want over £100million for their prized asset.
“I’m sure Evan Ferguson would be delighted at the thought of playing for Liverpool and Manchester United as most Irish boys would dream of that,” Richard Dunne told BoyleSports. “I think it’ll happen for him in the future.”
It would be a significant coup if Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford.
Evan Ferguson opens the scoring for the Republic of Ireland! 🇮🇪
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) October 16, 2023
United have struggled at centre-back this season; Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have suffered with injuries, Harry Maguire isn’t the long term answer and Jonny Evans has played more than anybody would feel comfortable with.
So it’s no surprise to see Guehi linked with a move to Old Trafford.
The 23-year-old Crystal Palace defender has been typically excellent under Roy Hodgson at club level, while also further cementing his place in the England squad.
Guehi’s current deal at Selhurst Park will expire in 2026 and The South London Press claim he would cost over £50million, the fee United paid to lure Aaron Wan-Bissaka four years ago.
The Golden Generation may be at pension age now, but Belgium are producing some high-end replacements for some of their greatest-ever players – including Openda.
United, alongside many other top Premier League sides, hold an interest in the RB Leipzig striker, but the Bundesliga club are unlikely to approve his sale in the January transfer window.
After firing Lens to second place in Ligue 1 last season, Openda has scored 11 times in 16 appearances for his new club and Leipzig will want a major profit over their €43 million investment.
The latest talent from Benfica’s prolific academy, Silva has captured the imagination of Europe’s top clubs at the tender age of 20. Not bad for a centre-back.
He has already made 70 senior appearances for Benfica, scoring six goals, and is considered Pepe’s successor in the heart of Portugal’s defence.
So it’s no wonder Silva has attracted interest from across Europe including United, Liverpool and Real Madrid. His signature would cost a pretty penny, but would be a significant statement of intent from Ratcliffe.
A Young Antonio Silva Bodying Mbappe-Neymar-Messi.
Benfica Gem 💎🇵🇹🦅pic.twitter.com/BP0o2B0Jg8
— 🇩🇪𝟐𝟎 (@razurax_) October 8, 2023
Antwerp made the Champions League group stages for the first time in decades this season and players of the quality of Vermeeren played a significant role in the Belgian club’s renaissance.
The 18-year-old has attracted interest from clubs across Europe, including Barcelona and Premier League sides including Liverpool, United and West Ham.
But it’s rumoured that Arsenal have moved decisively to make themselves frontrunners to finalize a January deal for the highly-rated teenager.
But Ratcliffe could chose to channel his inner Boehly and hijack any move for the midfielder…
Part of Xabi Alonso’s Bundesliga table-toppers, Tapsoba is blossomed into an imperious defender that’s worthy of playing at the highest levels of club football.
United are looking to recruit an athletic defender amid Varane’s brittleness, with Bayer Leverkusen centre-back Edmond Tapsoba under consideration, with his contract due to expire next summer.
It would be a very canny acquisition for United and a sign that the club are moving away from signing injury-prone big names on huge contracts.