It may have been an awful 2020 so far, but one thing that’s sure to brighten the mood – slightly – is the opening of the summer transfer window. With the next few months ready to be filled with transfer sagas, rumours, and downright lies, one club front and centre is Manchester United.
Despite the window having been open for a matter of days, United have already been linked with a plethora of top talent, including Jadon Sancho and Raúl Jiménez. Yet while Sancho remains the real top target for the club – and for fans – links to Wolves star Jiménez have raised a number of questions.
While these rumours of a move to Old Trafford may be nothing but sheer fantasy, the fact that Wolves are close to signing another striker could suggest the Mexican is really be heading for the exit door. But is he really what the Red Devils need right now? Perhaps not.
Some may think it weird to suggest that a player who’s scored 26 goals in all competitions is not suited to a club like United, but past history would suggest he’s not.
As United legend Gary Neville pointed out back in October, the club have rarely been as successful when deploying a physical or solitary striker, compared to when they’ve lined up with a more fluid attacking force.
As Neville explained after United had dispensed with the ‘Marmite’ Romelu Lukaku, the club are more suited to a striker with mobility. “I think United want a striker like Firmino,” he said, “like Son at Tottenham. I think he wants that type of player. I don’t think he wants a typical striker who is basically going to be a Lukaku or a [Diego] Costa.
“I don’t think he’s looking for that type. I think he’s looking for a more mobile type in a front three or a front two. I think this club has always had strikers who can play in pairs, who contribute off the ball.”
Neville went on to give a perhaps controversial example of where this fluid and mobile striker has been successful in the past, adding: “I’ll make a point about Ruud van Nistelrooy. We won less championships with him at centre-forward than when we brought Louis Saha in to partner Wayne Rooney.
“He was nowhere near as good a finisher as Ruud or as good a striker as Ruud, but the team became better. And that’s my point, I don’t think Ole wants a striker like that; I think he wants a mobile striker.”
While Jiménez is no slouch and can dovetail nicely with a second striker, he perhaps falls more into the mould of a Van Nistelrooy than a Saha. In recent history, this formula of having quick and dynamic attackers working in tandem has been the driving force behind United’s success, such as with Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole or Carlos Tevez/Saha with Wayne Rooney.
Now obviously Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are not quite at the level of those forward lines just yet, but given time it would appear there is the making of a really exciting attack – something that the arrival of Jiménez would no doubt hinder.
The former Benfica man is a marvellous footballer and somewhat of a throwback compared to the modern day centre-forward, but his arrival at Old Trafford would do more harm than good. With young Mason Greenwood destined to be United’s main striker in the coming years, the signature of the Mexican may serve to stunt that development – particularly if Sancho is signed to occupy the right flank.
Let’s not forget the fee it would take to bring the forward to Manchester, with it reportedly taking more than £50m to prise him from Molineux – not exactly chump change for a 29-year-old. While he has surely justified that price tag, it is simply too much to pay for a club that will already be forced to cough up £100m plus for Sancho. At a time when COVID-9 has wreaked havoc for every club’s economic situation, two major outlays like that are simply impractical.
United will, however, soon need to add another striker to bolster their ranks and enhance competition in the squad – particularly with short-term option Odion Ighalo set to leave in January. That being said, it’s probably best that the club hold fire on making a move for Jiménez.