Man Utd take left-field route with shock Marko Arnautovic move touted; forward ‘fascinated’ by surprise opportunity

Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic

Man Utd are considering a surprise move for Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic in the event Cristiano Ronaldo leaves, and the Austrian would love nothing more than to return to the Premier League, per a report.

The future of Ronaldo at Old Trafford continues to remain uncertain. The 37-year-old has made Manchester United aware of his desire to play in the Champions League this season. That can only be achieved if he leaves just one year after returning to the club.

Concrete interest from those than can offer UCL football hasn’t yet emerged. And with Anthony Martial now sidelined with a hamstring injury, Ronaldo may yet walk straight back into the starting eleven against Brighton on Sunday.

Regardless, if Ronaldo does leave before the September 1 deadline, United simply must sign a replacement in the forward line.

Prior reports have stated Erik ten Hag could go for a more versatile forward as opposed to an out and out centre-forward.

Indeed, Ajax’s Antony has drawn persistent links, though a new £80m price tag will prove problematic.

That led to the Mirror reporting Ten Hag had shifted his sights onto a different player from the Eredivisie – Cody Gakpo. The PSV ace may be available for half the price at £40m and put up superior numbers regarding goals and assists last term.

However, a separate report from Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport puts the familiar name of Marko Arnautovic in the frame.

The ex-Stoke and West Ham frontman is now 33 and plies his trade with Bologna. His primary position at this stage in his career is in a central role up front.

Via the Sun, it’s claimed United are considering a move for the veteran who would represent a far more cost effective option than the likes of Antony or Gakpo.

Arnautovic does have at least two more years left on his Bologna contract. Though aged 33, he’s unlikely to command a high fee.

From the player’s end, the 102-times capped Austrian is deemed ‘fascinated’ by the prospect of a late-career return to the Premier League.

Arnautovic a last-ditch option

Arnautovic has performed well in Italy, notching 14 goals upon his return to European football with Bologna last term.

He played for three seasons in China in Shanghai before that, though his talents clearly haven’t diminished.

Regardless, at 33, he would only represent a short-term fix. It’s also highly questionable whether he’d be a starter when all at United are fit – even if Ronaldo leaves.

But with Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata all having left as free agents, United do lack depth in the final third. Mason Greenwood continues to be unavailable indefinitely.

If the club finally make a breakthrough in their quest to sign Frenkie de Jong, funds for an addition in the forward ranks may be in critically short supply.

It is probably only in that scenario that a move for Arnautovic would be pursued.