Wout Weghorst to Man Utd: Erik ten Hag ‘knows what he is doing’

Wout Weghorst
Weghorst has scored eight goals in 16 matches on loan at Besiktas

Looking at it from the outside, it seems like a desperate transfer.

A 30-year-old striker who was loaned to a Turkish club after making a minimal impact in the Premier League… signing for Manchester United?

If Netherlands forward Wout Weghorst was being considered for a return to the English top flight after his modest spell at Burnley, before this weekend you would have imagined it would be to a club battling relegation, not one trying to get into the Champions League.

But that is the frankly sensational scenario. So would this surprise potential January loan move to United make sense for Erik ten Hag and his needs?

‘Ten Hag knows what he is doing’

Wout Weghorst
Weghorst appeared to say goodbye to Besiktas fans on Saturday

United need a new striker, that much is clear.

A vacancy was created up front when Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract was ripped up after his explosive interview about the club.

Ten Hag has said he needs to bring in a player in January, but will have to be “creative”external-link because of the costs involved.

Atletico Madrid’s Portugal forward Joao Felix has been linked with a move, but the La Liga side are reportedlyexternal-link requesting a £9.5m loan fee with a commitment to purchase permanently for £70m.

United spent over £200m on new signings last summer, eating significantly into the January budget, yet that doesn’t make Weghorst’s signing any less eye-opening.

The potential deal has similarities with the one that took Odion Ighalo to Old Trafford on the final day of the January transfer window three years ago, when the ex-Watford forward signed from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

So why does Ten Hag appear set to opt for Weghorst over other striker options?

“Ten Hag knows what he is doing, for sure,” former Manchester United first-team coach Rene Meulensteen told BBC Sport.

“He is 30 years old so it is a stop-gap because of the ongoing rumors with the takeover of new owners. That is probably the reason Ten Hag is being forced to do loan deals.

“He needs to do something in the transfer window though, so in this case it’s better to go with someone you know.

“It is not one for the long term but it is somebody who can do a job for them in the short term, especially in the latter stages of a game when they need to force something.”

‘A hard worker, a fighter’

Weghorst is currently on loan at Besiktas from Championship club Burnley and has scored eight goals in 16 games for the Turkish Super Lig giants.

He appeared to wave goodbye to the supporters after scoring in the 2-1 win over Kasimpasa on Saturday, but a move to Old Trafford may not be straightforward.

It is understood there is no break clause in the loan from Burnley, so talks around another move would need to involve all three clubs coming to an agreement.

Despite being at the club for only five months, Weghorst has become a fans’ favorite at Besiktas and his potential departure has been described as “shocking” and filled with “anger”.

Black Eagles fan Cagri told BBC Sport: “We were hoping to see him in action until the end of the season. He has brought passion, energy and talent to the team.

“If he leaves, we will have feelings of betrayal but our anger will be directed to the club’s management.”

Weghorst was signed by ex-Clarets boss Sean Dyche last January for £12m from Wolfsburg, but scored only twice and could not prevent the club from being relegated.

His career statistics, though, are impressive. He scored 70 goals in 144 games for the Bundesliga club and 45 in 86 for Dutch team AZ Alkmaar before that.

At the World Cup last month, he showcased his abilities as a ‘super sub’, coming off the bench to score twice as the Netherlands hit back to draw 2-2 against Argentina, before being beaten on penalties.

“He is different, that is why Ten Hag is bringing him in,” says Meulensteen, who worked under Sir Alex Ferguson between 2007 and 2013.

“He offers something else that the other Manchester United forwards don’t have – but I don’t think he will be a starter every game.

“He is tall, standing at 6ft 6in, and if United need to go a bit more direct and play off the knockdown, he is the type of guy that can offer that in the box. He is good at link-up play too, you can give him the ball then play through him.

“He is a good character who is determined, a hard worker and a fighter – those are his biggest traits. He is a nice lad too and there is no nonsense with him – Weghorst will put a shift in for the team.

“He possesses all the qualities Ten Hag wants in a player and so will fit in at United.”

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