Manchester United’s hopes of landing a marquee centre-forward in the summer transfer window rest with two of the toughest negotiators in world football – Daniel Levy and Aurelio De Laurentiis. The Tottenham executive chairman and Napoli owner are determined to fight off interest to keep Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen at their respective clubs this summer, meaning United face an uphill struggle to strike any form of agreement for either player with both currently topping Erik ten Hag’s summer wish-list.
Kane is approaching the final 12 months of his Spurs contract but is thought to be open to the prospect of talks at the end of the season when his future will once again be reassessed.
But even if Kane does choose to pursue a new challenge, Levy will have understandable reservations about losing his talisman to a direct rival.
Tie into that, Tottenham will need to maximise any fee they receive for the England captain, who is virtually an irreplaceable figure in north London – presenting further challenges for both Levy and the club’s next manager.
Meanwhile, Osimhen’s stock is at an all-time high having fired Napoli to the Scudetto after rifling home 23 goals in Serie A and De Laurentiis has already made it clear he is under no pressure to sell his £130million-rated frontman.
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United are expected to test the waters once they have decided who will be their summer transfer priority but if both avenues fail to bear fruit, alternative targets must come into play.
Outside of those two prolific strikers, the market is currently starved of standout options but there is one name that is likely to enter the thinking of both United and other Premier League sides this summer: Lautaro Martinez.
The World Cup winner is arguably on the cusp of Europe’s top-bracket, elite strikers and while he has not exploded as anticipated, he does now look ready to elevate his game to the next level after five seasons in Europe with Inter.
The Nerazzurri are still battling financial problems off the field, therefore a sale could prove to be of interest should the numbers be right for those involved.
Two summers ago in 2021, Tottenham struck a £60m deal with Inter for Martinez – only for the transfer to fall through following Chelsea’s club-record £97.5m bid for Romelu Lukaku.
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Now Inter are likely to work on the Belgian’s permanent return to the club this summer following a promising loan spell and that could help United’s cause to land Martinez, who could be open to a new challenge.
Martinez’s value remains around the £60m mark meaning he could cost half of what Tottenham and Napoli will demand for both Kane and Osimhen, respectively.
Tie into that, he could also prove to be a sumptuous fit for this United side as his link-play around the final third helps bring others into play – just as he has done at Inter.
While Kane is also known for his assists, his knack of dropping deep and creating chances at Tottenham stems from their preferred 3-4-3 formation.
At United, Ten Hag plays with a No.10 in Bruno Fernandes which could disrupt Kane’s habit of coming short to create space in behind for the wide forwards.
Osimhen is more of a focal point in attack and he likes to score the majority of his goals inside the penalty area, meaning he is more reliant on chance creation from those around him.
Martinez is a jack of all trades who represents an unpredictable challenge for defenders. He likes to play on the shoulder but is also partial to combinations and gelling Inter’s forward line with clever movement and clever hold-up play.
At 25, he is also at the perfect age for United’s project. His best years are undeniably ahead of him and having performed consistently in Italy and Europe in the past five seasons, he now looks ready to explode to new heights.
United are unlikely to be alone if they opt to launch a move for the World Cup winner with Chelsea also said to be admirers but outside of Kane and Osimhen, it’s clear he represents the most attractive centre-forward option currently on the market.
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