As the January transfer window neared its end, there was a worry spreading throughout the Old Trafford faithful that a goalscoring reinforcement wouldn’t arrive.
The purchase of Bruno Fernandes calmed a few fears, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side screaming for added creativity in the first half of the campaign, but following the injury to Marcus Rashford, a lot of pressure was placed on Mason Greenwood, Daniel James and an inconsistent Anthony Martial to perform.
For the first time in his career, the Frenchman had been solely used as a centre forward, and while he did score 11 goals in 23 appearances, he also had a knack for disappearing in games.
Unfortunately for his manager, there weren’t many alternatives, which is why, much to the disbelief of a vast chunk of the fanbase, the scrambling to sign Odion Ighalo took place.
Missing a relatively easy chance in his first outing against Chelsea, the loanee did, however, quickly show why Solskjaer was happy to have him in his team, scoring against Club Brugge and LASK in the Europa League, as well as bagging a brace against Derby County in the EFL Cup.
Four goals in eight appearances have led to suggestions the 30-year-old could be kept for longer, but Ighalo isn’t the long-term answer.
Ideally, Manchester United should have two strikers who can regularly compete for a starting spot, and in the project their Norwegian manager is trying to build, they would preferably be young.
Martial is still only 24, but already has five years or so of professional football under his belt, meaning a younger centre-forward could be needed as backup.
Mason Greenwood would fit that role, but as football tradition wants for technically gifted strikers, a few years down the wings will do wonders for his development, and despite his presence in the squad, talk of Manchester United being interested in strikers continues to circle.
One of the names to have popped up in the European press is that of Victor Osimhen, who currently plays for Lille.
In his first season with the French side, arriving from Charleroi for £11m in the summer, Ighalo’s compatriot adapted quickly to his new surroundings, and while he isn’t hitting Erling Haaland levels of efficiency, he is still a regular goalscorer, finding the back of the net 18 times in 38 appearances.
Tall, quick and strong for his age, the 21-year-old has all the physical attributes for the Premier League, but when you look at the goals he’s scored this season, that’s not what stands out.
Yes, he can outpace defenders, but it’s the timing of his runs and his movement off the ball that often make the difference.
Living between the two central defenders, Osimhen can be seen meandering around until his team pick up the ball, but once the likes of Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikoné start driving forward, springs to life and waits for the right opportunity to start his run, asking for it early in order to latch onto it.
Lille operate on the break a lot, much like Manchester United do under Solskjaer, so fitting into that style of play would be relatively easy for the 21-year-old, who would thrive on through balls from Bruno Fernandes and (maybe if he stays?) Paul Pogba.
You’ll rarely see him take long shots too, with the vast majority of his goals coming from inside the box, often waiting to read the keeper before taking his chance and then deciding to either chip, sidefoot or go around him.
Not only that, but he’s also on hand to pounce on a rebound or ensure the ball ends up in the back of the net when he and his teammates find themselves in a scramble in the box.
Goalscoring ability aside, Osimhen enjoys receiving the ball with his back to goal, allowing his teammates to join him on the attack, lay it off, turn and hope to be the one at the end of the move a bit further down the field.
On paper, those attributes are pretty much everything Solksjaer will be looking for in a striker, and while Osimhen can still disappear here and there, he can be given the benefit of the doubt, what with it being his first season in a new league.
All this, however, comes at a price.
Lille, as they demonstrated last year in their negotiations with Arsenal for Nicolas Pépé, won’t let prized assets go for cheap, and Osimhen would be no different this summer.
While Le10 Sport seem convinced Manchester United have made the Nigerian a priority in the coming months, his price tag could put more than one suitor off.
In a recent article, the website explained a €90m fee could be needed to convince Lille to sell so soon after acquiring the forward, and it remains to be seen if Ed Woodward and co. would want to spend that much on a player who only really has two full seasons of football under his belt and wouldn’t be guaranteed a starting role in the team at first.
Then again, it worked with Martial, despite the English press saying he had no chance.