As ever with Manchester United, a plethora of names have been linked with a move to the club in January.
With United in such a torrid run of form, the number of transfer rumours circulating the club have increased even further than usual.
Although the winter transfer window has been seeing less and less activity over recent years, it seems United will be left with no choice but to make at least one signing in January, with the current squad looking far from capable of even a top-six finish.
The most pressing issue for United is their lack of firepower – striker Romelu Lukaku was allowed to leave in the summer and no direct replacement was brought in.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already invested heavily in United’s defence, sanctioning big-money moves for Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but it seems now his most urgent task is improving the top end of his squad.
This season, Anthony Martial has been United’s only real threat in front of goal – the Frenchman scored twice in his first three Premier League games before picking up an injury that has kept him out the squad ever since.
In Martial’s absence, Marcus Rashford has failed to burden the goal-scoring responsibility, scoring just once from the penalty spot.
Solskjaer’s only other option up front has been Mason Greenwood, and despite the youngster displaying his natural finishing ability when he’s been given the chance, an 18-year-old should not be Manchester United’s main source of goals.
It seems then that United will turn to the transfer market in January, in order to find another source of goals to support Martial.
One of the names heavily linked with Old Trafford is Martial’s fellow countryman Moussa Dembele.
Dembele, 23, has scored 21 goals in 41 league matches for French side Lyon since his move from Scottish side Celtic at the start of last season.
Lyon, much like United, have endured a terrible start to the season and sit 14th in Ligue 1.
With his side under-performing so drastically, it could give Dembele a reason to jump ship in January – albeit to another under-performing side, but one of a much greater European stature.
Dembele has been a proven goal scorer everywhere he has played in his short career – the former PSG youth player bagged 15 times for Fulham, before scoring 26 goals in 55 games for Celtic.
The fact Dembele has played in England before means he wouldn’t take as long to adapt to the league, unlike many foreign signings – the striker has played at both Premier League and Championship level for Fulham, while the SPL offers its own physical challenges.
The issue with Dembele is the hefty transfer fee United would have to pay in order to secure his services – the French U21 international would ordinarily cost in excess of £50million, but that fee could rise dramatically due to deal taking place during the winter window, as it gives Lyon less chance of finding a suitable replacement.
Would Ed Woodward be willing to part with such a huge sum of cash for a player that is not yet a household name in world football?
Dembele would no doubt score goals in the current United team, and could still join the club next summer even if a deal doesn’t go through after the New Year.
Perhaps a more attainable target would be Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic – another name continuously linked to the Red Devils.
Mandzukic, 33, has been out of favour under Maurizio Sarri this season in Turin, and would be open to a move in January.
Although the Croatian doesn’t fit into Solskjaer’s philosophy in terms of his age, he certainly does in terms of his work rate off the ball.
The former Athletico Madrid frontman works tirelessly out of possession, and would buy into the high pressing football Solskjaer is trying to instil at United.
Mandzukic has repeatedly been used out wide during his time in Italy, but when he has been given a chance to lead the line at big clubs such as Bayern Munich, he has shown a ruthless streak in front of goal.
The six-foot three-inch forward scored 33 goals in 54 league games for the Bavarians, before scoring 12 in 28 for Athletico.
Mandzukic would also provide United with some much-needed experience – Solskjaer’s young squad have looked out of their depth at times this season, and having a player who has won so many trophies elsewhere could benefit their development.
With Juventus unlikely to ask for much money for Mandzukic, it looks to be the most likely deal to go ahead – especially if Woodward can negotiate a short-term deal, before bringing in a younger striker during the summer.
A final, more unlikely option for United could be resigning former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The big Swede departed Old Trafford in 2018 for LA Galaxy, where he has since scored 52 times in 56 games.
With such outrageous statistics, it would seem the move to America was premature for a player of Ibrahimovic’s calibre, and given the character that he is, it would be no surprise if he wanted to challenge himself in England once again during the MLS off-season.
In August, Sweden’s all-time leading goal scorer even hinted at the move himself.
“I could play easy in the Premier League, so if United needs me, I’m here,” he said.
Despite his form across the Atlantic, there is no doubt United would be taking a risk on the 38-year-old, who missed most of his second season in Manchester with a serious knee injury.
Although he offers a superior goal-scoring record to Mandzukic, he is perhaps not as well suited to the high-pressure football Solskjaer is implementing.
With that being said, if the deal for Mandzukic falls through and Dembele proves to be too pricey, there are worse back up plans than a striker who has been named in four FIFA FIFPro World XI’s.
If one of the older options do indeed sign for United in January, they will only represent a temporary fix to a growing problem – the true rebuild of United’s attacking line will take place next summer.