Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd striker shortlist down from five to four, with mind-boggling clause Ten Hag’s only way

Portugal forwards Joao Felix and Goncalo Ramos

Man Utd would have to set a new club and Premier League record if they’re to sign a Portugal forward whose club chief has slapped down talk of a January sale.

The Red Devils will push to sign a new striker next month. Erik ten Hag confirmed as much on Saturday night, with Cristiano Ronaldo due to be replaced with all haste.

The Red Devils have been linked with all manner of forwards in recent weeks. However, five players in particular appear to be cropping up far more regularly.

PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo, Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Barcelona’s Memphis Depay and Portuguese pair Joao Felix and Goncalo Ramos are the quintet in question.

Of those Gakpo, 23, is understood to be the club’s primary target, though doubts are creeping in over the proposed deal.

Gakpo is now reportedly valued around the £65m mark following his goalscoring exploits at the World Cup. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee PSV will sell mid-season, while a Man Utd reporter highlighted five red flags surrounding the Dutchman.

Osimhen is likely to cost a colossal sum given Napoli are chasing their first Serie A title since the Diego Maradona days. Napoli lead AC Milan by eight points at present and losing their star centre-forward mid-season is unthinkable right now.

Sport claimed Man Utd are mulling a cheap and cheerful move for Arsenal target Depay. The 28-year-old is on the fringes at Barcelona and Xavi’s side are reportedly open to a January sale.

Depay would be arguably the least sexy of the quintet and is also by far the oldest. His £200,000-a-week wages are also an issue.

Portuguese pair come into focus

Finally, Portuguese pair Felix and Ramos have been linked, and the former is now desperate to escape his Atletico nightmare.

Felix’s relationship with Diego Simeone has disintegrated, though that won’t stop Atletico commanding a hefty fee.

In lieu of Gabriel Jesus’ knee surgery, Arsenal are also in the market for a striker and are believed to be on Felix’s trail. Aston Villa were linked by Marca, while Chelsea are an outsider at present.

However, today’s update regards the final man on the shortlist – Goncalo Ramos.

The 21-year-old set tongues wagging when scoring a hattrick against Switzerland in the World Cup Round of 16.

Ramos plies his trade for Benfica and their president, Rui Costa, has delivered a strong response to talk of Ramos leaving mid-season.

Release clause or bust for Man Utd

Via the Manchester Evening News, the former Portugal international said: “We have the sole objective of having a winning season, no player will leave – unless it is due to the clause – which at this moment is fundamental for the squad.

“What I can promise our supporters is what I did at the beginning of the year. This is a sporting project, not a financial one.

“Fortunately, we are not experiencing financial problems and we have no need to sell players.”

Ramos is understood to hold a release clause in his deal worth €120million (approx. £103m).

A figure of that size would therefore warrant both a new United club record as well as a Premier League record. The current marks in that regard are held by Paul Pogba (£89.3m) and Jack Grealish (£100m) respectively.

The chances of United forking out £100m+ on one player in the winter window are virtually nil. If Benfica stick to their guns as they say they will, United can safely cross one player off their striker shortlist for January.

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