There’s nothing like a dreadful opening day performance to spark a trolley dash.
Manchester United’s risible 2-1 home defeat to Brighton on Sunday at least served to sharpen the minds of those working behind the scenes to deliver Erik ten Hag some new signings.
Within 48 hours, United had started – and swiftly abandoned – a pursuit of the Austria and Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic and moved to the brink of signing Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot for £15million.
Erik ten Hag can’t hide his frustration as Manchester United lost their opener to Brighton
The performance on Sunday left more questions than answers for Ten Hag and his players
Rabiot eases United’s shortage of midfielders a little but it looks increasingly likely they will miss out on Ten Hag’s No 1 target Frenkie de Jong.
With Anthony Martial injured and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Old Trafford future uncertain, the need for United to sign a new centre forward as quickly as possible was hammered home on Sunday as well.
In such times, barely a day goes by without United being linked to someone new. But what’s the latest on each of the names they’re currently being linked to and what are the chances of a move happening?
One transfer that does appear to be happening and potentially ahead of this Saturday’s visit to Brentford, which is already taking on the appearance of a must-win.
United’s football director John Murtough was ironing out personal terms with Rabiot’s agent – and mother – Veronique on Tuesday night as the £15million deal inched closer to completion.
The France international is asking for around £8m a year and Juventus are pretty keen to offload him despite there being one year remaining on his contract.
Manchester United have agreed a £15m fee for Juventus and France midfielder Adrien Rabiot
Rabiot is a talented midfield player but isn’t the most popular at Juventus and he has a worrying track record of off-field indiscretions from his time with Paris Saint-Germain.
However, United urgently need more midfield options after starting the season with Fred and Scott McTominay still playing there following the summer exits of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic.
It speaks volumes, however, that United will continue their pursuit of Ten Hag’s No 1 target, Frenkie de Jong, despite the signing of Rabiot. Clearly they don’t believe he will completely cure their midfield ills.
Chances of the transfer happening: 9/10
FRENKIE DE JONG
United are increasingly pessimistic about their chances of persuading De Jong to leave Barcelona for them before the September 1 transfer deadline.
Frenkie de Jong still needs convincing that a move to Man United is the right idea
The prospect of a reunion with his former Ajax coach Ten Hag doesn’t seem to appeal to the Holland international, who has dug in his heels and made clear he wants to play Champions League football.
That has allowed Chelsea to swoop for De Jong and certain reports in Spain are suggesting that a £68m deal with the Stamford Bridge club is moving nearer.
It would be a huge blow to United given how Ten Hag feels his countryman is integral to the way he wants his team to play. Even worse, he would be playing for a direct rival.
Though United reached an agreement with Barcelona over De Jong, and the Catalan club need him off their books, the player remains to be convinced it is the right move for his career.
Time is fast running out now and United getting their main man this summer hangs in the balance.
Chances of the transfer happening: 3/10
Turning attention to the vacancy in attack and Ten Hag’s knowledge of Dutch football has reportedly led United interest in the PSV Eindhoven player Gakpo.
He is more of a left-sided attacker or winger so he’s not precisely what United need, which is an out-and-out centre forward who can guarantee them 10-15 goals and isn’t bothered about playing second fiddle to Ronaldo if he stays.
Gakpo, 23, returned 21 goals and 15 assists in all competitions last season and has made a similarly bright start to the current campaign as PSV attempt to negotiate the Champions League qualifiers.
PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo has been linked with United but has suggested he’ll stay put should his team qualify for the Champions League proper
They will play Rangers in the play-off round and the latest is that Gakpo will snub United and stay in Eindhoven for the group stage if they make it through. After all, United can only offer the Europa League right now.
United’s arrivals so far
Lisandro Martinez (Ajax, £52m)
Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord, £13m)
Christian Eriksen (free agent)
While Gakpo has on occasioned led the line for PSV, his skill set is much more suited to a wide berth and may not really offer United much different to what they already have.
Mind you, Ten Hag has raided his old club Ajax for Lisandro Martinez and also Feyenoord for Tyrell Malacia this summer so there’s a chance he may plunder the Eredivisie for someone else yet.
Chances of the transfer happening: 5/10
A little more befitting of the brief up front is two-metre tall Austrian Kalajdzic, who scored six Bundesliga goals for Stuttgart last season and would have had many more but for a shoulder injury.
Prior to that, in 2020-21, he shot to prominence with 16 goals during what was his maiden campaign in Germany’s top division.
The 25-year-old wants more clarity over Stuttgart’s intentions for him amid interest from not only United, but Chelsea and Everton as well.
Stuttgart forward Sasa Kalajdzic has emerged as another option in attack for Man United
He is on United’s radar because his height means he offers a clear point of difference to many of their other attackers, who rely on speed and skill.
With just the one more season left on his contract, Stuttgart might be tempted to cash in on Kalajdzic, especially with three Premier League clubs interested.
Despite that competition, this looks like a deal United could more easily and quickly wrap up should they decide to pursue it.
This, of course, comes after United considered raising their original offer of £7.5m for another Austrian in Arnautovic but decided against it following a fan backlash.
Chances of the transfer happening: 6/10
David Beckham and Wayne Rooney are former United stars to have scored from the halfway line.
Ismaila Sarr during Watford’s match against West Brom on Monday night
And after Ismaila Sarr found the net from similar range for Watford against West Brom on Monday night, the rumour mill suggests United may be in for him.
It turned out that United’s technical director Darren Fletcher was at The Hawthorns to witness Sarr’s outstanding goal.
United were linked with Sarr 12 months ago as well so it could be that Fletcher was there to scout him a little more. Or he may have just been catching up with old acquaintances at West Brom.
Again though, it’s hardly a jaw-dropping signing given the Senegal winger was relegated at the end of last season. Watford also want a transfer fee north of £40m for him and he missed a penalty in the same game.
Besides, he’s another winger and that’s one area United aren’t short on.
Chances of the transfer happening: 4/10
Or maybe Fletcher was more interested in Watford’s striker, Emmanuel Dennis, who is also up for sale should the price be right.
The Nigerian is more of a centre forward and managed 10 goals for the Hornets in last season’s Premier League as they faced the drop.
Dennis has been linked with Nottingham Forest after West Ham dropped out of the race to sign him for what would be around £20m.
It seems unlikely but as the days pass by, United may consider any option to bolster their creaking forward line.
Chances of the transfer happening: 3/10
Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis celebrates one of his 10 Premier League goals last season
Reports on Wednesday suggested that United have been offered the chance to sign the former Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata, currently at Atletico Madrid.
The Spain international has spent the last two seasons out on loan at Juventus where at least he’s hit the target with great regularity than he did in the Premier League.
He has two years remaining on his Atletico contract but they want rid of him and he could suit United if he’s willing to warm the bench as Ronaldo and/or Martial start games.
But there must be serious reservations about a player who managed to score just 16 league goals in two seasons at Chelsea despite a price tag of £60m.
There’s little evidence to suggest Morata, 29, would perform any better in the same environment now but again you can’t comprehensively rule out a cut price deal.
Chances of transfer happening: 5/10
Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring a goal for Spain against Portugal in the Nations League
United seem to have been permanently linked to the Lazio midfielder for much of the last decade and this summer is no exception.
The all-action Serbia international would certainly be a good option in midfield and a De Jong alternative though he is accustomed to playing a little further forward than the more holding role that would be required of him at United.
Lazio were always likely to demand upwards of £60m and the signing of Rabiot does alleviate the need to move for Milinkovic-Savic as well.
Reports in Italy now suggest he will remain at the Stadio Olimpico a little longer and he has two years remaining on his current deal there.
So the chances of United signing him in the coming weeks appear to be receding.
Chances of transfer happening: 5/10
United’s chances of signing long-term target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic seem to be receding