Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag gets green light to seal Man Utd signing of little-known Serie A striker as replacement for failed £57.6m transfer

Lecce striker Nikola Krstovic is a target for Manchester United

Lecce striker Nikola Krstovic is a target for Manchester United

Manchester United are reportedly considering a shock approach to sign Montenegro striker Nikola Krstovic, who has seemingly been cleared to leave Lecce for a knockdown fee in the January window.

It’s proving to be an extremely difficult second season at the Manchester United helm for Erik ten Hag, who has a plethora of issues to resolve at Old Trafford. Having won the Carabao Cup, reached the FA Cup final and finished third last season, it seems much of the early optimism around his reign has very quickly faded away.

Amid a worrying run of nine defeats from their opening 18 matches of the season, reports have suggested Ten Hag could soon have a battle on his hands to hold on to his job as Manchester United manager.

Those reports have been aided by our worrying claim that a number of senior Manchester United players have began to question Ten Hag’s tactics, substitutions and transfer decisions.

And with that report jumped upon by a series of national papers, a Liverpool icon this week claimed Ten Hag would surely be sacked, having named the ‘obvious’ Premier League coach destined to replace him.

All the same, the embattled United boss continues to fight on, calling on his players to show a togetherness and desire to battle their way up the Premier League table.

Amidst issues all over the pitch for United, it is perhaps their lack of a cutting edge in attack which will likely trouble Ten Hag the most.

Creating chances, with Bruno Fernandes the second most creative star in the Premier League so far this season, is clearly not the issue. Finishing them, though, evidentally is.

READ MORE ~ Most chances created in the Premier League: Bruno Fernandes going for the double

Ten Hag needs another striker at Man Utd with Martial to leave

Having fallen out with Jadon Sancho, the England winger will likely be allowed to move on in the January window.

But with big summer signing Rasmus Hojlund yet to break his duck in the Premier League (he does, however, have five goals in four Champions League games), those struggles are compounded by the fact that Marcus Rashford (one goal), Anthony Martial (one goal), Alejandro Garnacho (one goal) and Anthony (zero goals) are just not contributing as expected.

Martial, with just six months left on his deal, has also been reportedly cleared to leave by Ten Hag. Indeed, our exclusive on Tuesday revealed that several European heavyweights were circling with Martial’s exit likely to be sanctioned as soon as the January window opens.

Dogged by injuries and inconsistency, Martial, who ultimately cost a huge £57.6m from Monaco, will depart after eight and a half seasons at Old Trafford.

However, the exit of the 30-times capped France forward means Ten Hag will need a replacement to call upon.

Nikola Krstovic linked with bargain Man Utd move

And while Porto striker Mehdi Taremi was touted for a cut-price move to United in January, reports in Italy now state Ten Hag has another option has emerged in the form of Krstovic.

The Montenegro striker only moved to Lecce over the summer, joining from Slovakian side Dunajska Streda.

The 23-year-old has, however, acclimatised quickly, scoring four times in seven Serie A appearances.

Now, according to Calciomercato, he could be on the move again with United given the green light to pursue his signing for just €10m (£8.7m).

Prior to his move to Serie A, the 11-times capped Montenegro striker boasted a prolific record in the Slovakian league, where he scored 37 times and registered eight assists from 66 appearances.

Of course, doing it on a regular basis in the Premier League is an entirely different prospect. You only need to look at Hojlund’s inability to register in the Premier League – albeit after a dubious VAR call in the home clash against Brighton denying him – to understand how difficult it can be.

Nonetheless, United do need another attacking option to not just replace Martial but also provide cover and competition for Hojlund.

United were on Wednesday linked with a fresh move for Brighton striker Evan Ferguson, who has emerged as what is described as a dream target for Ten Hag.

However, any deal for the Irish teenager will not come cheap with the Seagulls demanding a new British record fee for the striker.

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