Darwin Nunez could be awarded his dream shirt number if he joins Manchester United this summer, but it all rests on Erik ten Hag’s desire to keep Anthony Martial.
Though midfield remains the key position to reinforce during the summer transfer window, United also requires more firepower due to dwindling alternatives at the center of the field. Marcus Rashford’s poor goal-scoring form this season hasn’t helped his case, Edinson Cavani is leaving the club when his contract expires, and Mason Greenwood is unavailable.
As a result, Cristiano Ronaldo is the only genuine senior striker option Ten Hag currently possesses. Although he finished the season as the club’s leading scorer with an outstanding 24 goals, he is 37 years old and cannot be counted on to lead a line for an entire season. That’s even if he decides to stay at Old Trafford, given the club’s absence of Champions League football this season.
Whether Ronaldo stays or not, a new striker is essential. United have also been heavily linked with a deal for Benfica striker Nunez.
Next an outstanding 14 goals and 12 assists in the 2020/21 season, the 22-year-old outdid himself the following season. Last season, he scored 34 goals and assisted on four others in just 41 games. Six of the goals came in the Champions League, including a brace against Barcelona and a goal against Bayern Munich in the group stage, followed by goals against Ajax and Liverpool in the knockout stages.
Unsurprisingly, the Uruguayan is now being linked with a major summer move to one of Europe’s elite teams, with Benfica supposedly valued at over £66 million. United are said to be interested, although Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Real Madrid are also said to be interested.
United’s absence of Champions League football may prove costly in any pursuit, but if a deal is reached, they may be able to offer Nunez his ideal No.9 shirt.
Martial presently wears the jersey, but the Frenchman has made it clearly apparent that he wants to leave the club due to a lack of playing time. The forward forced his way out of Manchester United in January, joining Sevilla on loan for the remainder of the season, but the transfer proved a flop.
The 26-year-old has spent the majority of the last six months in the treatment room and has only made 12 appearances, scoring once. The La Liga club has already stated that they will not be attempting to make the trade permanent, but Martial’s future remains uncertain.
There have been no indications that his position on his future has shifted, so another exit could be in the works if he isn’t in Ten Hag’s plans. If he leaves, Nunez will have free reign over the No.9.