Saturday 21 September 2019

Manchester United consider January move for Newcastle striker

Newcastle United’s Ayoze Perez celebrates
Newcastle United’s Ayoze Perez celebrates

Luke Edwards and Mark Ogden

Manchester United are interested in signing Newcastle United striker Ayoze Perez and could bid for the Spaniard in January.

Perez is also being watched by the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal, but United are thought to be keenest on the 22-year-old and have been monitoring his progress since he joined Newcastle from Tenerife last year.

Manchester United are looking for ways to increase their attacking options in the mid-winter window and Perez has been watched several times this season, with positive reports returning to Old Trafford.

United are struggling to convert possession into an attacking threat under manager Louis van Gaal, which has led to criticism of the Dutchman’s style of football and is forcing them to search for strikers who would be willing to join them in January.

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Perez would jump at the chance to move to Manchester and while Newcastle would be reluctant to sell in the middle of the season, they could still be persuaded if they believe the offer is too good to turn down.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney shakes hands with manager Louis van Gaal after he was substituted
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney shakes hands with manager Louis van Gaal after he was substituted

Although Newcastle have previously described themselves as “hard sellers” what they mean is they do not sell cheaply.

That could frustrate van Gaal in January, but a bid would almost certainly turn the player’s head and that could weaken Newcastle’s resolve, particularly if there is an opportunity for Newcastle to make an extravagant profit.

Perez cost them around £1.7m, when was plucked from relative obscurity playing for a small Canary Islands club in the Spanish Second Division 16 months ago.

The 22-year-old would be an intriguing option for van Gaal in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as he can play in a variety of forward positions, either out wide or through the middle.

He has been at his most effective at Newcastle playing alongside another striker or just behind one, which suggests he could thrive alongside Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial.

Although he is not rapidly quick, Perez would also inject some pace into the United frontline. He is skilful on the ball and although he has not been prolific, he has been asked to play in a poor team while adjusting to English football.

When chances have come his way, his finishing skills have been impressive. Perez has scored three times this season in a Newcastle side that has only won two league games, the most recent a fine finish at Bournemouth, in which he surprised the goalkeeper with an early shot disguised with minimum back lift.

The biggest stumbling block is Newcastle’s lowly league position and the fact they also want to strengthen their forward line in January.

Selling Perez would be a big risk to take, but that does not mean it is out of the question at this stage, as long as United are willing to pay a January premium on the fee and Newcastle can line up a replacement.

Head coach Steve McClaren is also contemplating recalling Adam Armstrong from a loan spell at Coventry City, where the 18-year-old has scored 12 goals in 14 games in League One.

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