Manchester United are desperately in need of a new talisman; following the club’s mutual termination of Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract in November, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are the only established players capable of adopting the role.
And with the January transfer window now open, the Red Devils are inevitably going to leave a trail of rumours with every slight movement, but there is one prominent forward that could alight the club’s silverware-chasing aspirations.
Reports from the closing months of 2022 stated that United manager Erik ten Hag has held an interest in Juventus’ prolific striker Dusan Vlahovic since before the departure of Ronaldo, despite the Serbian sensation only arriving in Turin last January, agreeing a £66.6m transfer from Fiorentina.
His value has risen a great deal since then with it likely to take a fee of around €100m (£88m) to see him don the famous red shirt in the Premier League.
And with United recently failing to complete the signing of Cody Gakpo, who had been of interest to the Old Trafford outfit since the summer but ended up joining Liverpool in a £35m deal, there are doubts around the likelihood of a concrete move this winter.
Van Persie 2.0
Vlahovic, still only 22 years old, burst onto the scene in the Italian Serie A and captivated La Viola faithful with his devastating strikes of the ball and innate goal-scoring movement in-and-around the penalty area.
For Fiorentina, he scored 49 goals and provided eight assists from only 108 outings, remarkable figures for an ace plying his trade throughout the maiden period of his professional career.
And last year, in the campaign that saw him swap Florence for the Old Lady at the midpoint, the 19-cap gem completed a stunning return of 29 goals and six assists from 45 total outings – etching his name into the book of the globe’s very elite forwards.
If United were able to forge a transfer, they would finally have an out-and-out striker to lead the line for years to come, a destructive offensive presence with a proven track record for club and country of bypassing the opposing goal with regularity.
Would you like Vlahovic at Old Trafford?
No, not convinced
The “monster” – as hailed by Carlo Garganese – could emulate the success of one Robin van Persie, who signed for the Red Devils in 2012 for £24m from divisional rivals Arsenal in a move that sparked an incensed wave of anger from the Gunners ranks.
Van Persie won the league during his debut season at the Theatre of Dreams, plundering 58 goals and 21 assists from only 105 appearances – including a tally of 30 goals and 15 assists during his first term at the club.
With both phenoms wielding a ferocious left foot, predators instincts within the box and a physicality that allows them to bully defenders with ease, it’s no wonder that Ten Hag wants to bring Vlahovic to Manchester, with hopes that he can indeed replicate the feats of one of English football’s greatest ever strikers.
And with immense praise from Nenad Bjekovic, the president of the Serbian FA, who said he’s “more complete than [Erling] Haaland” he might just be the diamond the Red Devils are seeking to return the club to former glory.