From the outside, it looks like a desperate transfer.
A 30-year-old striker who was loaned out to a Turkish club after making minimal impact in the Premier League… signing for Manchester United?
If Dutch striker 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 at a relegation-battling club, not a club trying to get into the Champions League.
But it is frankly sensational scenario. Would it therefore surprise potential loan transfer in January at United make sense for Erik ten Hag and his needs?
“Ten Hag Knows What He’s Doing”
United need a new striker, that’s clear.
A vacancy was created up front when Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract was torn up after his explosive club interview.
Ten Hag said he needs to bring in a player in January, but will have to be “Creative” because of the costs incurred.
Atletico Madrid’s Portuguese striker Joao Felix has been linked with a move, but the La Liga outfit are would have demanding a loan fee of £9.5m with a standing commitment to buy for £70m.
United spent over £200million on new signings last summer, which cut January’s budget significantly, but that doesn’t make Weghorst’s signing any less telling.
The potential deal bears similarities to the one that took Odion Ighalo to Old Trafford on the last day of the January transfer window three years ago, when the former Watford striker signed from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.
So why does Ten Hag look set to go for Weghorst over other striker options?
“Ten Hag knows what he’s doing, that’s for sure,” former Manchester United first-team manager Rene Meulensteen told BBC Sport.
“He’s 30, so it’s a stopgap because of the ongoing rumors about new owners taking over. That’s probably why Ten Hag is forced into loan deals.
“He has to do something during the transfer window though, so in that case it’s better to go with someone you know.
“He’s not a long term, but he’s someone who can do a job for them in the short term, especially in the later stages of a game when they need to force something.”
“A hard worker, a fighter”
Weghorst is currently on loan at Besiktas from Championship side Burnley and has scored eight goals in 16 games for the Turkish Super Lig giants.
He appeared to say goodbye to the fans after scoring in the 2-1 win over Kasimpasa on Saturday, but a move to Old Trafford might not be straightforward.
It is understood there is no break clause in Burnley’s loan so talks over another move are expected to involve all three clubs to reach an agreement.
Despite only being at the club for five months, Weghorst has become a fan favorite for 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 brought passion, energy and talent to the team.
“If he leaves we will have a feeling of betrayal but our anger will be directed at the management of the club.”
Weghorst was signed by former Clarets boss Sean Dyche last January for £12m from Wolfsburg, but only scored twice and could not prevent the club from being relegated.
His career stats, however, are impressive. He scored 70 goals in 144 games for the Bundesliga club and 45 in 86 for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar before that.
At the World Cup last month he showed his ‘super-under’ abilities, coming off the bench to score twice as the Netherlands fought back to draw 2-2 with Argentina, before being beaten on penalties.
“He’s different, that’s why Ten Hag brought him in,” says Meulensteen, who worked under Sir Alex Ferguson between 2007 and 2013.
“He offers something other Manchester United strikers don’t – but I don’t think he’ll start every game.
“He’s tall, 6ft 6in, and if United need to go a bit more straight and play the knockdown, he’s the type of guy who can deliver that in the box. He’s also good at linking play, you can give him the ball and then play through him.
“He’s a good character who is determined, a hard worker and a fighter – those are his greatest traits. He’s also a nice guy and there’s no nonsense with him – Weghorst will put a change in the game. ‘team.
“He has all the qualities Ten Hag wants in a player and will therefore fit in at United.”