Former Manchester United forward Andrew Cole believes it will take “a lot of money and a lot of persuading” for his old club to secure their top striker target this summer.
The Red Devils are in the market for a centre-forward with the out-of-contract Zlatan Ibrahmovic – who could still be offered a 12-month extension – sidelined long-term with a cruciate knee ligament injury and club-record goalscorer Wayne Rooney’s future increasingly likely to be away from Old Trafford.
“It is very difficult to see who is out there United could buy,” said Cole, who scored 121 goals in 275 matches for the club.
“Look around world football and there aren’t many to bring to a club like Manchester United.
“Everybody is looking for the same thing and all Premier League clubs can afford big money now.”
“It is going to take a lot of money and a lot of persuading but it is easier now we are back in the Champions League.”
United were initially interested in Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann but have since turned their attention to a traditional number nine rather than one who plays a slightly deeper-lying role like the France international.
“It is very difficult because when you are talking about strikers now there are not many out-and-out strikers,” added Cole, who will be back at Old Trafford in September as assistant manager to Bryan Robson for the United Legends’ game against Barcelona.
“When you are talking out-and-out strikers you think of Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich but you cannot see them selling him.
“Alvaro Morata at Real Madrid can’t get in the team but he was fantastic the year before at Juventus.
“You then start to think ‘Who else is there?’. There aren’t many out there. There is talk of (Romelu) Lukaku.”
Whomever United set their sights on Cole believes they have to look at the wider picture and bring in attacking players who are more creative.
United drew 15 Premier League matches this season – 10 at Old Trafford – and their former striker believes that can only be improved by a change in personnel.
“Any team needs a centre forward who scores goals. Any team needs a winger who can beat his defender and gets crosses in and scores goals as well,” he said.
“That is what we have missed over the last few years. Zlatan has been absolutely fantastic and Marcus (Rashford) is still a baby and is still learning but he’ll get there.
“But to get more goals we need players who can produce that little bit of magic; someone who can unlock the door and take chances.
“We can be pragmatic and resilient but when you are playing for Manchester United you have to have something special.
“If we can get those kind of players then we can get back to where we should be.”