Erik ten Hag has asked Manchester United to explore the possibility of making a January signing to replace Cristiano Ronaldo with the club looking at a shortlist of options including Cody Gakpo and Rafael Leao, sources have told ESPN.
United were not planning to make significant additions to the squad in January after spending more than £220 million on new players in the summer.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (US)
But after Ronaldo’s departure — which will save the club around £15m in wages — Ten Hag has asked for a selection of forwards to be monitored in case one becomes available in the next window.
Sources have told ESPN that the United manager understands the financial constraints after the larger-than-expected outlay in the summer but remains concerned that Ronaldo’s exit will leave him short of options for the second half of the season.
Ten Hag is anticipating a hectic schedule after the World Cup with games in four competitions and an extra round in the Europa League against Barcelona to navigate after finishing second in their group behind Real Sociedad.
Anthony Martial’s fitness is an issue after the France international suffered three separate injuries during the first half of the campaign while Jadon Sancho has lost his place following a run of poor form.
United looked at Gakpo, who has scored twice for the Netherlands at the World Cup, in the summer before signing Brazil winger Antony from Ajax.
Sources have told ESPN that Ten Hag remains a keen admirer of the 23-year-old, who has also been followed by Leeds United and Southampton.
PSV Eindhoven value Gakpo at around €50m but the Dutch side hope he will stay until at least the end of the season, particularly while they are in the hunt for a first Eredivisie title since 2018.
Sources have told ESPN that United are also tracking Portugal winger Leao. The 23-year-old helped AC Milan to the Serie A title last season with 14 goals in 42 games and scored for Portugal in their 3-2 World Cup win over Ghana on Thursday.