Erik ten Hag says Manchester United are making progress in their pursuit of a new striker.
Already light of a frontman in his first season at Old Trafford, the acrimonious exit of Cristiano Ronaldo and January loan move for Wout Weghorst underlined the need for an attacking acquisition.
United have signed midfielder Mason Mount and goalkeeper Andre Onana this summer but work continues to sign a striker, with up-and-coming Atalanta talent Rasmus Hojlund targeted.
The Old Trafford giants are only believed to be willing to go up to £60million for the Denmark international, while Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani is an alternative.
“We make progress, yeah” Ten Hag said when asked about United’s pursuit of a striker.
“But you know how it works – when we have him, we will tell you directly.
“The only thing I can say is we do everything that’s in our power to get that done.
“If it was up to me, yeah, as soon as possible. The earlier the better because we have to integrate him in the team, the way of play.
“In an ideal situation, he was already here but you do not always get ideal situations as a manager and you have to deal with the situation.”
While United look for a forward with potential, talk of a move for Tottenham sharpshooter Harry Kane persists.
United sources have downplayed such talk and suggestions they are targeting Kylian Mbappe, who is subject of a world record bid from Al Hilal after Paris St Germain decided to sell him.
Asked about a move for Mbappe, even on loan, Ten Hag said: “We never speak about players who are under contract in other clubs.”
United need a striker to bolster a goal-shy side, whose return of 58 was comfortably the lowest in the Premier League top-six. Marcus Rashford scored a career-high 30 club goals, but Ten Hag wants more from the rest of the team.
“We are under-performing there, and we are aware of it so others have to contribute also in that area but therefore we are looking for scoring abilities,” said Ten Hag, who has given the green light for forward Anthony Elanga to join Nottingham Forest.
“I think with Mason Mount already we have a player extra who is capable of not only scoring goals but also to create, and to put play players like Rashford into position to score more goals.
“But as a whole team we have to score more.”
A fully fit Anthony Martial would certainly aid that cause next season. The France international impressed during the last pre-season tour, only to score nine goals in 29 appearances during an injury-hit campaign that was ended by a hamstring issue.
“Today he was in the team training, so that is really hopeful,” Ten Hag said after Monday’s session in San Diego.
“Of course, when you have a player in your squad you expect that he is available and players have to take responsibility to be available.
“But when he is not, I have to deal with the situation and we show we can be successful without that striker.
“But it’s easier when you have that striker in the team because I think every club who wins big trophies has scoring abilities in that team.
“We need a good squad and Anthony Martial is a brilliant football player so he will help us, he scores goals.
“Also in other areas of football like pressing, in possession, combinations, he’s a great player, so let’s hope he will be fit and he stays fit.”
United are in the USA as Ten Hag’s men continue to gear up for the 2023-24 season. The Under-21s – supplemented by some senior players, including Jonny Evans – face Wrexham in San Diego on Tuesday before the first-team play Real Madrid in Houston the following day.
“I didn’t watch the Wrexham documentary, but I know them, we played them last year,” Ten Hag added.
“I know they got promoted. Of course I’ve seen the actuality, the way we play, I know the players.
“We brought the Under-21s in but we will strengthen them with some players who are on the tour with the first squad.”