Manchester United signings must meet ‘financial criteria’

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said any swoop for a striker in January will have to be in line with “financial criteria” set by the club.

Ten Hag has seen one target, Cody Gakpo, move to Liverpool in a deal which could rise to €50 million. And while the Dutchman is not making a secret of United’s desire to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, he admits it will not be easy.

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“We are looking for offensive players, we are looking for a striker. It would be good because of all the games coming, we are playing every third day and it is tough,” Ten Hag said following a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

“I think we are always in the market, but it has to match the sporting criteria but also the financial criteria. We do what we can to bring in any player we can. For the progress of the team, we need to be more clinical .”

Victory over Forest moved United to within a point of Tottenham Hotspur in fourth, but asked whether Gakpo’s imminent arrival would give Liverpool a boost in the race for the Champions League places, Ten Hag said he preferred to focus on his own squad.

“I’m not looking at other teams,” he said. “I am looking at our team. I am convinced of the players’ abilities to compete with those teams.”

United beat Forest thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Fred, despite having to play Luke Shaw as an emergency centre-back. Raphael Varane was also asked to start despite playing in France’s World Cup final defeat to Argentina just 10 days ago.

“You always ask yourself after a break, what will be the restart,” Ten Hag added. “And we play a team with a back-four [that’s] never played together and a player who never played ever in a centre-back position. So if you win by three, concede no goals, you are happy with the performance.

“Rapha shows once again his great personality and the standard he is giving Manchester United. I had a problem in the centre-half position and he took the responsibility and played really well and was important for our team.”

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