Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag confirmed that his team was close to signing transfer target Wout Weghorst, but the player will not be available for the Manchester derby.
“We are close. He will not be available for tomorrow,” Ten Hag told reporters in the pre-match press conference.
“Weghorst wasn’t even available in the last weeks, it would be a bonus if he was. We have won a lot of games without Anthony Martial,” he added.
Weghorst, who was already on loan at Turkish club Besiktas, appears a surprising replacement for Ronaldo. The football great had his contract terminated by United in November after conducting an explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticized Ten Hag and the club’s owners.
Ronaldo has since signed for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.
Ten Hag has been keen to bring in cover in attack to boost his team’s push for Champions League qualification and its pursuit of a trophy in his first season in charge.
Ronaldo’s departure left United with only two senior strikers in Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
Weghorst played for the Netherlands at the World Cup in Qatar and scored two goals in his country’s dramatic quarterfinal match against Argentina. He scored twice late on to send the match to extra time and penalties before Argentina won 4-3 in the shootout.
The 30-year-old Weghorst has scored eight goals for Besiktas this season, including two in his last three games.
Weghorst joined Burnley in a $15 million deal from German club Wolfsburg in January last year. He managed only two goals in 20 appearances as Burnley was relegated from the Premier League.
United was linked with a move for Cody Gakpo this month, but the Netherlands forward instead joined rival Liverpool.
Ten Hag is expected to move for a long-term replacement for Ronaldo in the summer, with Harry Kane among the players linked.
United midfielder Donny van de Beek has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury,
Man United comes into the match after a commanding 3-0 win against Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal, with Ten Hag becoming the manager, quickest to 20 wins with the club. But the Dutchman stressed on the need to win trophies.
“It is nice but you deserve nothing for it. It is about winning trophies. We are here in a project and we want to win trophies,” he told the press.
(with inputs from AP)
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