Warning issued in Manchester United’s pursuit of Italian striker

Manchester United have been looking to strengthen their attacking line this summer with the earlier pursuit of Antione Griezmann which was scrapped after Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata seems to be the player that United will sign, but they have also expressed an interest in Torino striker Andrea Belotti. United need to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic a player they released at the end of the season, his contract is set to expire at the end of the month. The veteran Swedish striker suffered a season-ending knee injury in April which seems to have scuppered a new deal as he may not play football again in 2017. There could be a chance he a signed by the Old Trafford club again, but there are currently no plans for that right now.

United seem to have their work cut out of Belotti is a player they want to sign as he has an £87 million release clause, which is only in place for foreign clubs, so he could move to another Italian club for a much smaller fee if he did choose to leave Torino. Belotti scored in Italy’s 5-0 hammering of Liechtenstein on Sunday, showing his class on the international stage, which he had shown throughout the season for his club. Torino president Urbano Cairo will not let his star man leave the club for anything less than his release clause, which stands at £87 million, a massive fee for a player who has only played in the Serie A, but that seems to be the era we live in – setting high prices for players deemed talented with clubs making a killing in bringing players through their ranks. Cairo, speaking to Italian broadcaster Radio 24, reported by The Mirror, said:

“I care about Belotti and I’m keeping hold of him. He has a contract with Torino until 2021. I would only sell him for €100m, but even then he can refuse. The most important thing is what he wants, regardless of the release clause, and I believe he wants to stay. We are trying to build the best possible team at Torino. Belotti is busy on international duty [with Italy] at the moment and then he is getting married on Thursday — he invited me.”

The Mirror also have a report suggesting that United have started to concentrate on getting the deal for Alvaro Morata across the line with the reason being that Belotti’s release clause is excessive. As it stands, United placed a £52 million bid for Morata, which was rejected with a counter offer of more than £70 million demanded with United testing the water with a £60 million fee for the player. Reports on Twitter, which are probably largely unreliable have suggested a fee could be accepted, but without any credible reports of this, I would advise that they should not be believed. There are so many unreliable accounts on Twitter who seem to get a kick out of giving incorrect information at this time of year, leading people down the garden path for months on end, which is just plain boring.

If United were interested in both Morata and Belotti and both arrived at the club this summer, it would suggest that Jose Mourinho does not trust both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, let alone Wayne Rooney who to be honest has gone off the boil in recent seasons and should leave the club or face his career being even further away from the level it could be. It is clear the former England captain does not have a future at United, otherwise Mourinho would have played him for the majority of the season, which was not the case despite the player being fit for much of the season. Martial currently plays on the left-wing with Rashford also having played as a wide player, which is not his favoured position. Both Morata and Belotti could suggest Rashford is surplus to requirements, so based on that alone, I would only expect one of the due to arrive this summer.

Which striker could Manchester United be interested in this summer?

Manchester United cooled their interest in Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann last Thursday with a view of looking for a new striker rather than a player considered to be a number ten, despite being able to lead the line and play on either wing. For the last few seasons, United have been short on strikers, which is a problem. This was the case during the past season too with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being heavily relied upon, getting through much of the season and doing well, but when he was suspended, or latterly injured, United’s reliance moved onto Marcus Rashford, which worked, but was not all that ideal. Wayne Rooney was another option but over the past few seasons, the United captain has lost his strikers instinct, which was shown in Michael Carrick’s testimonial on Sunday at Old Trafford. Just who could Jose Mourinho be looking to sign this summer to lead the like for United? Here are some options, both realistic and unrealistic.

Romelu Lukaku

The Everton striker is on the move this summer and will have a hefty fee placed on his name, said to be around £100 million, which is a huge figure even with the money in today’s game. Lukaku is a beast when he is on form, but during that past season, that has not always been the case. The Belgian scored 26 goals for the Goodison Park club during the past season, which is not bad considering the club he played for, but if he was in form for much of the season, he could have led his side in to a better finishing position in the league, maybe with them not having to qualify for a UEFA Europa League place next season. Lukaku has confirmed that he has now reached an agreement with another club ahead of the new season. Could that be with Manchester United?

Alvaro Morata

The Real Madrid forward has been linked with AC Milan in recent weeks, with suggestions made that only United are currently interested in signing the Spaniard. Fresh from helping his side lift the UEFA Champions League trophy for the third time in four seasons, Morata, a former Juventus player, moving back to Madrid last summer after a buyback clause in his contract was activated, it seems that the Madrid club will be cashing in on the player this summer, something maybe to help fund their bid for AS Monaco youth prodigy Kylian Mbappe, who may want to remain at the principality club for another season, something seconded by his club. Morata could be an option for United this summer, but no firm interest seems to have been reported.

Andrea Belotti

The Italian striker has been linked with United already this summer, but his €100 million release clause would be one of the main factors of whether there was any solid interest in the player from the Old Trafford club. Belotti made 37 appearances for Torino during the past season, scoring 28 goals, which is something United would want in their team next season – incidentally, the same number Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored before he suffered that season-ending injury back in April. Belotti is a decent striker, maybe not one of the best in the world, but certainly on the right track and heading in the right direction. United will be looking for at least one striker, but whether that is Belotti remains to be seen.

Alexandre Lacazette

The Frenchman was seemingly on his was to Atletico Madrid this summer, but the clubs ban from FIFA was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week, which means he could move to the Spanish capital, but would not be eligible to play for the club until January, missing the first half of the season which could effectively rule him out for France ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer. Lacazette was linked to United last week and has previously been a target for Arsenal and Liverpool. The player could opt to remain at Lyon for at least the first half of the season, moving to Atletico in January, but may find it easier to remain at Lyon for another year, fighting for his place in France’s World Cup squad, should they make next summer’s tournament. United will have other options, but two years ago, Lacazette was the many most United supporters were raving about if that means anything.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabon international is rumoured to he heading to Paris Saint-Germain this summer with the player wanting to move to Real Madrid after Borussia Dortmund. The 27-year-old scored 31 goals in 32 matches during the past season, so he offers what United are looking for – goals. Aubameyang is a €70 million target for PSG but reports suggest that United could go head-to-head with the French club in the race to sign the once Manchester City target. Aubameyang would be a good signing, as would any striker who has the ability and potential to score the goals United need in order to put on a better challenge in the Premier League and beyond next season. The league was the main area where United fell short, drawing too many matches, especially at home. Whoever Jose Mourinho and United are looking for this summer, they will be a player who will add something the club have not currently got.

copyright: JW