If fans of Manchester United were to draw up a transfer wish list, it’s safe to say that Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland would be right at the top.
United officials are admirers of the 21-year-old and the club has been consistently associated with the highly regarded striker.
But the problem is, the Norwegian star is also a target for just about every elite side across Europe.
This means that when Dortmund decide they are ready to cash in on their prized possession, most likely next summer, competition for his signature will be fierce.
There is a real possibility that, despite United’s apparent interest, they could lose Haaland to a European rival. It is therefore important that they have a shortlist of possible alternative options that they can pursue if this does happen.
With that in mind, below are five young forwards who have excelled this season who could very well spark interest at United if forced to pursue other options outside of Haaland.
Jonathan David – Lille – 22
David came to Ghent from Canada in 2018 and it didn’t take long to adjust. He scored 37 goals and registered a further 15 assists in just two seasons.
His performances for Belgium attracted a lot of interest from major European sides, and it was ultimately Lille who made the switch in the summer of 2020.
At Gent, David mainly played an attacking role in midfield, but in Ligue 1 he was deployed and flourished as a striker.
He played a key role in Lille’s title success in Ligue 1 last season and despite an inconsistent campaign for the reigning French champions, he has still managed to score 16 goals for them in all competitions to date.
Arthur Mendonça Cabral – Basel – 23
The Brazilian was loaned to Basel from South American side Palmeiras for the 2019/20 season.
His performances during that campaign, scoring 16 goals and providing three assists, convinced Basel to part with £4 million to finalize his move at the end of that season.
It has been a rapid rise for him since then and the price paid now seems like a steal given the 23-year-old’s goals.
He has scored 27 goals in all competitions this season alone. That comes from an xG of 26.67, which paints a picture of a reliable goalscorer who gets himself into plenty of good scoring positions.
In addition to an eye for the target, he also has plenty of likeable physical traits. He stands at 6ft1in but is mobile with good technical skills.
Karim Adeyemi – RB Salzburg – 19
In his first full season last year with the Salzburg seniors, Adeyemi scored an impressive nine goals, while also logging 11 assists in all competitions. That came down to a remarkable goal contribution of 1.39 per 90 on average.
In the league alone, he averaged 0.98 goals per 90 out of an xG of 0.8. That indicates quite an overachievement based on opportunities created for him, but not one that you would consider untenable.
Unsurprisingly, then, there hasn’t been a major drop in his performance this season, scoring 18 goals in just 25 appearances so far.
Based on Adeyemi’s prowess and career path to date, it’s easy to see why he’s been labeled the next Erling Haaland.
Julian Alvarez – River Plate – 23
Though he may be only 21, Alvarez’s striking return of 24 goals and 16 assists in 32 club appearances this season has put him firmly on the radar of Europe’s elite. The same saw him being called up to the Argentina national team last year.
Best described as a flowing forward, Alvarez’s skill means he can operate anywhere on a front line, yet he is at his most dangerous playing in the middle as a centre-forward.
At just six feet tall, he isn’t the tallest, yet he is tenacious and smart in his movements, regularly working himself in good shooting locations. This point is established by the fact that he has averaged 2.85 shots per 90 this season.
Alvarez’s height also gives him a low center of gravity, aiding his speed and dribbling skills, all of the young forward’s standout traits.
Ben Brereton Diaz – Blackburn Rovers – 22
The experience of being called up to the Chilean national team in the summer undoubtedly gave Diaz the platform for the outstanding campaign he has enjoyed so far this season.
The 22-year-old has scored 20 goals for Rovers, 13 more than he scored last season.
This fine scoring form could be the result of a purple goal, but general improvements in his play instead point to a young attacker who seems to be maturing and adding a more selfish edge to his game.
Compared to last season, Diaz makes less progressive runs and passes leading to shots for teammates, but his own output in terms of shots has increased noticeably.
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