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Man United won’t ‘burn money’ in striker search

Erik ten Hag has stated Manchester United need to add a striker to their squad during the January transfer window, but added he won’t “burn money” by signing the wrong player.

United face Bournemouth at home on Tuesday having climbed into the top four at the weekend despite having the lowest strike rate in the top six with just 24 goals from 16 matches so far this season. With only 12 goals from seven games at Old Trafford, no club in the top 10 has scored fewer times at home than United.

United cancelled the contract of Cristiano Ronaldo, last season’s 24-goal top scorer, before the World Cup and Ten Hag said he is concerned about the lack of goal threat in his team, with Marcus Rashford the leading scorer on six Premier League goals.

But having missed out on PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo to Liverpool, partly due to a lack of finances at Old Trafford, Ten Hag insisted United will continue to look for the right striker, with the caveat that he must offer instant value for money.

“I think we have a good team when all the players are available, but with many games coming up, I think there is a need [for a new striker],” Ten Hag said. “But you need one who can have an impact, otherwise you are just burning money and you don’t strengthen the squad. It doesn’t help you.”

With England winger Jadon Sancho not being considered for selection right now while he completes an individual training programme in order to return to full fitness, United lack depth in attacking areas.

As a result, Ten Hag says he will not consider letting any of his forwards to leave on loan this month, including Anthony Elanga, who is of interest to Everton.

“I know we have good players and I know a lot of clubs will have an interest in players who aren’t playing for us so often,” Ten Hag said. “But we need the squad. We need depth in the squad and especially, I would say, the front line.”

Despite United’s need for greater firepower, Ten Hag said he is reluctant to cut short Amad Diallo’s season-long loan spell with Championship club Sunderland.

Diallo, a £37 million signing from Atalanta in January 2021, has scored six goals in 19 appearances for Sunderland this season, but after a difficult loan spell in Scotland with Rangers last season, Ten Hag stated he is wary of interrupting the 20-year-old’s progress at the Stadium of Light.

“We consider everything, but I have a little bit of reservation about that [recaling Diallo] because I don’t want to stop the process,” Ten Hag said. “He has made really good progress there so I’m happy with that.

“But young players need experiences and when we decide for him to come back, he has to be a player who can compete for the starting XI or minimum to come on for a lot of games and make an impact.

“I see and value and his potential and capabilities. What I saw is that he needs experience in men’s football, senior football.

“I think there are many aspects of football to get strong physically and mentally, and also skills wise to improve and develop that so he can have value for us.”

Steve Carr

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