Manchester United have three elite striker options to target
Jadon Sancho is arriving at Man United this summer and next summer is the ideal time to sign a striker.
Manchester United have got their house in such tidy order their objective for the transfer window next summer is already clear: a striker.
Edinson Cavani was born on Valentine's Day but is not wilting like a bunch of roses. Seventeen goals as a 'back-up' centre forward marked a successful return and he will return to United later this month as the starting striker.
Cavani turns 35 in February and became sprightly in the spring when his playing time was managed meticulously. His last eight United starts came in separate weeks and Cavani poached eight goals.
Another grey winter in England's north west, this time with no restrictions (still uncertain with this government), may signal passage back to South America. Cavani will have had another Premier League season to sharpen up for the winter World Cup.
Come next summer, United will have delayed signing a long-term number nine for three years. With Romelu Lukaku nursing a pretend injury during the 2019 pre-season tour in Perth and about to go AWOL, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stressed: "If we sell players we will have to replace them."
Odion Ighalo became redundant after two months but Cavani is a short-term fix that supporters are buzzing off. As he demonstrated with that majestic dink against Fulham, the squad number and the first two letters of his name are not the only similarities Cavani shares with Eric Cantona. Matchgoers have fallen head over heels for their Valentine.
Retaining the Cavani became a no-brainer and United must hope the disagreements over his conditioning in February and March are in the past. That period coincided with a run of United mustering six goals in eight games.
Beyond Cavani's class, this summer's marquee move in attack is Jadon Sancho and next year Erling Haaland and Harry Kane are likely to be available. Kylian Mbappe may also be out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain.
The nuances are myriad. There is no guarantee United will have the same manager this time next year and a change of manager would mean a change of targets. Haaland is a generational talent who transcends hierarchies and managers but he has a special affinity with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from their time at Molde. If United had it their way, Haaland would have been driven into Carrington 18 months ago.
Kane has played 64 games in a little over 10 months - the same amount he tallied in 2015-16. He has averaged 53 appearances in the last seven seasons and Kane celebrates his 28th birthday later this month. His ankles are as brittle as Twiglets.
Despite the wear and tear, certain footballers prolong their brilliance well into their 30s. Kane cited Robert Lewandowski: “A lot of his goals have been in the last five years and I feel, especially nowadays, there is no reason you can’t be hitting your prime in your early 30s."
Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic provide additional proof of that, albeit preserved by years of coasting through Ligue 1. The Bundesliga is not exactly taxing for Lewandowski and there are tell-tale signs injuries have taken their toll on Kane, dropping deeper and away from snapping centre-backs.
Kane is hungry for success and, whatever the outcome of Sunday's European Championship final, it will fuel it. It is doubtful Kane knows where his three runners-up medals are kept and, in keeping with the Tottenham mentality, he kept his on at the Champions League final.
Spurs have privately decided to deny Kane a move this summer but they would have to have a remarkable first season under Nuno Espirito Santo to prevent Kane from having his head turned again. With Cavani, Juan Mata and possibly Paul Pogba off the wage bill this time next year, United could justify the expense. Anthony Martial's contract expires at the same time as Kane's.
Dortmund are a doormat for teenage talents and will have known when Haaland arrived in the winter of 2019 that a transfer was inevitable in the summer of 2022. It has been nearly a decade since a team other than Bayern Munich lifted the Bundesliga shield and Dortmund have overachieved in keeping Jadon Sancho for four seasons.
Mbappe is a purer player than Neymar and it was disappointing he joined PSG in the first place. The egomaniacal environment is harming Mbappe's reputation and any prestigious club would roll out the red carpet for the 22-year-old.
Solskjaer has more than once floated the possibility of United signing someone they have not been linked with (eg. Daniel James) but that is nigh-on impossible with a centre forward. The United manager admires Dominic Calvert-Lewin's old-fashioned approach but the 24-year-old represents a comedown from the stellar strikers and would be difficult to prise from Everton, even if they have a new house to get in order at Bramley-Moore Dock.