Cristiano Ronaldo is back in the news after storming off before full-time against Tottenham and now looks increasingly likely to leave Manchester United in the January transfer window – but Erik ten Hag’s side will then need to sign a replacement.
Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions last season but has fallen out of favour under Ten Hag and is now considering his next move.
Those rumours are gathering pace after unused substitute Ronaldo stormed off down the tunnel before full-time on Wednesday as Spurs were beaten 2-0.
After the match, Lisandro Martinez offered a measured response, though pundit Alan Shearer was quick to stir the pot with some astute observsations.
And while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial (when fit) are rediscovering their best form in 2022/23, United will still need to add another goalscorer to their squad.
We’ve taken a look at five strikers that United could target in the January transfer window.
Schick shot to prominence with his stunning long-range strike against Scotland at Euro 2020, which was voted goal of the tournament.
The Czech Republic international was also the joint-top scorer at Euro 2020 after netting five goals in five games, but Cristiano Ronaldo won the Golden Boot due to his one assist.
“Ronaldo was definitely an idol for me,” Schick later admitted. “I started following him at Euro 2004, when he was about 19 years old. It was the first time I saw him. I wanted to have his boots, that’s where it started.”
The Bayer Leverkusen striker carried that form into the 2021/22 season, registering 24 goals and five assists in 27 Bundesliga appearances. He averaged a direct goal contribution every 72.2 minutes and only Robert Lewandowski scored more than him in the Bundesliga.
After helping Leverkusen finish third in the Bundesliga and qualify for the Champions League, he quashed any talk of a possible transfer by deciding to sign a new long-term contract.
Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said of the striker: “Patrik Schick has played a fantastic season, demonstrating that he’s an absolute world-class player in his position. There are only a few centre-forwards of his calibre internationally.
“Patrik’s exceptional sporting qualities as a complete striker are complemented by the skills of a leader, who provides a team with guidance and support on the pitch.”
But Leverkusen have since suffered their worst start to a Bundesliga season in 40 years and Xabi Alonso has now replaced Gerardo Seoane in the dugout.
Schick, who has three goals in 12 games in 2022/23, might want to jump ship and move elsewhere in the January transfer window.
While Toney wouldn’t be a marquee replacement for Ronaldo, he could be a shrewd signing for Ten Hag’s side.
The striker has worked his way up the English football pyramid and fired Brentford to the top-flight after scoring 33 goals in the Championship in 2020/21.
He managed to hold his own against the Premier League’s best defenders and registered 12 goals and five assists in 33 league appearances in 2021/22 as Brentford secured a mid-table finish.
The 26-year-old has since taken his game up another level, scoring five goals in his first eight league games in 2022/23. He also produced a brilliant performance in Brentford’s 4-0 win over United, setting up two of their goals.
Toney’s impressive form recently earned him his first England call-up, and he’s also been linked with United, Chelsea, Everton, West Ham and Leeds.
Having had so much success with Sebastien Haller at Ajax last season, Ten Hag reportedly wants a striker that is technically and physically strong and Toney fits the bill.
A move to Old Trafford would also see him reunite with Christian Eriksen after the duo formed a brilliant partnership at Brentford in 2021/22.
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) March 12, 2022
Osimhen was linked with United in the summer after Jorge Mendes attempted to broker a swap deal that would have seen Cristiano Ronaldo move to Napoli.
While the move failed to materialise, United should consider a separate approach for the Nigeria international during the January transfer window.
He’s established himself as Napoli’s talisman and won the Serie A Young Player of the Season award in 2021/22 after getting 14 goals and five assists in 27 league appearances.
The 23-year-old didn’t quite match Ronaldo’s goal tally from last season, but he is also renowned for his pace and intelligent movement in the channels.
While several clubs have been linked with Osimhen, Ten Hag’s side might have a slight advantage as Sky Italia claim he is a boyhood United fan.
“Of course, one day I’d like to play for a big club in England,” he told The Independent in 2020. “I’ve spoken to Odion [Ighalo] about it. He gave me very good advice, he’s a legend and a big brother.”
Admittedly, he won’t come cheap as Napoli want to keep him and have reportedly set an asking price of around €100million (£87million).
Since joining Inter Milan from Racing Club in the summer of 2018, Martinez has developed into one of the best strikers in the world.
He has scored 77 goals in 191 appearances in all competitions and was a key player for the Nerazzurri during their title-winning 2020-21 campaign.
According to The Times, United offered cash and Anthony Martial to Inter in an attempt to sign the Argentina international during the summer transfer window but the Serie A side rejected the offer.
Martinez has also been linked with Tottenham and Bayern Munich in recent months but signed a new contract with Inter last season, extending his stay at the club until the summer of 2026.
However, Inter’s financial woes mean that a transfer away from the San Siro is not entirely off the table as they need to raise funds.
Despite being Chelsea’s top scorer in the Premier League in 2019/20, Abraham fell out of favour at Stamford Bridge after Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in the dugout.
He completed a £34m move to Jose Mourinho’s Roma and scored 17 goals in 37 league appearances in 2021/22, breaking the Serie A record for most goals scored by an Englishman in a single season.
The England international also scored 10 goals in cup competitions and capped off a memorable debut campaign with a victory against Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa Conference League final.
He’s gone from strength to strength in Italy and his performances have inevitably resulted in speculation regarding a return to the Premier League. Chelsea have a £68m buy-back option on their academy graduate, but the striker has also been linked with United.
“When I see reports linking me with other clubs it makes me feel good, it makes you feel like you’re doing something right,” he told talkSPORT earlier this year. “It’s a nice feeling seeing your name all over newspapers.
“But for me it’s about focusing on doing my business here. I can keep getting linked with many clubs but who knows what the future holds?
“Of course I grew up in England, I’m a London boy. So maybe one day I’ll be back in the Premier League to make noise there.”