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Alexander Sorloth & Solskjaer: A Norwegian could yet be leading the line at Man Utd

COMMENT: Jadon Sancho will help. As will Jack Grealish. And Jude Bellingham is a nailed-on one for the future. But above all else, what tops that shortlist of summer priorities for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a new striker...

Not cover for Marcus Rashford. Nor Anthony Martial. Solskjaer wants something different. Whether it be in the form of the stop-gap Odion Ighalo, or a longer term solution, Manchester United will start next season with an out-and-out old-fashioned target man.

For Ighalo, he has the baton for the moment, though that could all change - even before the end of this current campaign. If the noise out of China is to be believed... the Nigeria international has a new contract waiting to be signed upon his return to Shanghai Shenhua. Ighalo's parent club upping an already extraordinary £330,000-a-week deal to £400,000. No matter the emotions. The boyhood dreams. Such a ticket would be hard to turn down at any time, let alone in today's circumstances...

So the good money is on Ighalo thanking Solskjaer for the chance to live out a dream, packing his gear and flying back Shanghai. Whether that be for July 1, or if the two clubs can reach a compromise on the 31 year-old playing out the Premier League's extended season before returning.

Either way, Solskjaer will be back to square one. Back to those days in the aftermath of Erling Haaland's decision to blank him and sign for Borussia Dortmund over the New Year.

Haaland. Ighalo. Solskjaer wants a centre-forward. He needs one. Goals. Clean sheets. An 11 match unbeaten run. It's no coincidence that everything clicked for United once Ighalo was ushered through the doors. If it's not to be the Nigerian next season, Solskjaer will be hoping it'll be third time lucky this summer.

It's no surprise news of interest in Timo Werner has emerged in the last week. As this column told you before Christmas, the RB Leipzig striker has long been on Solskjaer's radar, though was never a priority. The belief always being that Haaland would be leaving RB Salzburg for Old Trafford either in January or June.

With a 'moving' buyout clause (involving appearances, goals, etc) of around €50m you can understand United reviving their interest in the Germany international. Though it has to be said, Werner's priority - and likely destination - will be Liverpool. As much as it's been claimed over the weekend, the idea that FSG, the club's owners, will go another summer - as they did last year - without significant investment is tenuous at best. There'll be money there for Jurgen Klopp to utilise and Werner has made it no secret that Liverpool is where he wants to play his football. Indeed, given such robust declarations, it's difficult to see how Werner could ever be comfortable at Old Trafford with fans knowing how hard he pushed to make it to Anfield.

Instead, well at least alongside Werner, another name is being given serious consideration inside United. Young. Prolific. He fits the criteria set by Solskjaer. And the manager knows him. Alexander Sorloth breaking through at Rosenborg just as Solskjaer was making a name for himself as coach of Molde. At 24 and standing at 1.95cm, Sorloth has proved himself in Turkey this season, scoring 19 goals in 26 Super Lig games with Trabzonspor.

A finisher. One who can play with his back to goal. Involve others. And be a target for those on the ball. All qualities that can be built upon and improved given his youth. Of course Sorloth is being considered inside Carrington...

Such a record was always going to attract interest and as wild as the local press can be, there's no denying Sorloth has become one of the most coveted strikers in Europe. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and Juventus have all been mentioned as potential destinations this summer - as have United.

"I've seen the rumours, there are so many," says Sorloth. "I have read them and I continue to receive information on the teams that are interested."

And the crazy thing is, his parent club, Crystal Palace, will have no say in the matter.

Roy Hodgson, the Palace manager, may claim otherwise, but both agents for the player and Trabzonspor insist, there's no going back to Selhurst Park for Sorloth. Palace negotiated this loan deal with the intent to sell - and for just €6m. Today, you can multiply that price by seven and you might get close to what Trabzonspor plan to ask for the Norway international this summer.

And ask they will. The Turks seeing a chance to make a killing. There's no two ways about it, Palace have blown this one.

Dad Goran, a former Norway international himself, said: "Trabzonspor is a great team. They look after each other and play like a team. My son had a hard time but learned to deal with it. After a difficult time in the Premier League, he's doing an amazing job in Turkey. I am proud of him."

Trabzonspor has been good for Sorloth. As has Turkey. But like Dad, who had 12 months with Bursaspor during his playing days, this could be a one season renaissance for Alexander. Just enough to prove that Palace was an aberration, not the norm.

Which is what Solskjaer is now deliberating with those he leans on. If it's agreed Sorloth's problems last season were more about Palace than the player, that summer checklist will kickoff with a bid being tabled to Trabzonspor.

Next season, a Norwegian may still be leading the line for United after all...


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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