United executive vice president Ed Woodward noted that at least 100 players were linked with a move to Old Trafford in early 2020. Only one has actually joined on a permanent deal – Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon.
The Reds are entering the winter window into uncharted territory, being well and truly in a title race. United are five points behind league leaders Liverpool with one game underway having previously played at Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City.
Despite the disappointment of escaping the Champions League, United remain on the hunt for silverware on several fronts and can reserve their place in the Carabao Cup semi-final by beating Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton tonight.
Both sides are in good shape heading into the game at Goodison Park and United will need to pay close attention to Toffees star Dominic Calvert-Lewin if Ancelotti field a full squad. For United scouts, keeping a close eye on the England international should be a priority before next summer.
United are not expected to extend Odion Ighalo’s loan spell at the club in January, leaving a void to fill at the top of the field. Edinson Cavani has impressed since arriving on a free transfer this summer, but that’s not a long-term fix considering he’s 33. Therefore, a move to Calvert-Lewin this summer could prove to be a masterstroke.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a huge fan of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, trying and failing to lure the Norwegian prodigy to United last January. Haaland, who worked with Solskjaer at Molde, was breaking records with Red Bull Salzburg but decided his immediate future would be better served at Borussia Dortmund. United continue to be linked with a move for the striker who has continued his momentum in Germany, but as long as he is represented by Mino Raiola – he will not move to Old Trafford.
In Calvert-Lewin, United have a ready-made alternative to Haaland. The 23-year-old is enjoying his best season yet with 11 Premier League goals in just 14 appearances under Ancelotti. His remarkable form and development under the Italian was rewarded with an appeal to the senior England squad where he scored on his debut against Wales.
Calvert-Lewin is rightly held in high regard in Goodison and has been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo by Everton’s assistant Davide Ancelotti.
He said: “Of course he’s at the start of his journey. But like I said, game by game, I’m seeing big improvements. Also in training, he works very hard to improve. The special ability that he has, that all great talents have, is that he knows his body very well. He knows his feelings very well and it’s not that common. For example, [Cristiano] Ronaldo was such a player. He was able to understand his body. ”
The Reds won 6-2 at Old Trafford, having been set in motion by two goals from Scott McTominay in the opening three minutes. Further strikes from Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof and Daniel James completed the hammering of the cross-Pennine rivals.
They then continue their Carabao Cup campaign when they face Everton at Goodison Park in the quarter-finals.
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Ancelotti is right and Calvert-Lewin’s best attributes suggest he would thrive in the United system. The forward excels with his back to goal suggesting he could forge an excellent partnership with Bruno Fernandes. Calvert-Lewin is also a huge air threat – one of the best in the division – meaning Alex Telles’ point crosses could finally have a worthy recipient in the box.
Haaland is the signing United fans want and rightfully so, but signing another Raiola client seems highly unlikely. If Everton can be persuaded to part ways with their star striker, Calvert-Lewin can be the man instead.