Gianluca Scamacca: Man United’s Number 9 Answer

(image source: Matteo Gribaudi/Image Sport)

With Erik ten Hag now the boss at Old Trafford, it’s clear that he will want to be making quite a few additions to a rather depleted United squad.

One position that must be addressed is centre-forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo is without a doubt the greatest of all time, however with the superstar turning 38 next year, it’s clear that Manchester United will need a striker long-term.

Anthony Martial is not the answer, nor is Marcus Rashford or Edinson Cavani.

So in terms of identifying who could fit the role, it’s important to analyse who ten Hag would like as the long-term solution.

When looking at his most recent Ajax side, he utilised Sébastien Haller in a typical manner during the 2021/22 Eredivise season.

Haller would mostly function as a target man, so should Ajax need to go long, the Ivorian would be the main outlet.

The 27-year-old also had decent link up play with his teammates, that allowed the creative midfielders and wingers to bounce passes in and around him.

So with that being said, this in theory should rule out a move for Darwin Núñez.

(image source: Getty Images)

Now, don’t get me wrong Núñez has had an unreal season for Benfica scoring 26 goals and registering 4 assists.

However, there are quite a few issues with the 22-year-old’s style of play.

He’s not athletically dynamic, being he’s quite limited with his movements despite being relatively quick. His link up play is pretty poor and he’s massively overperformed his xG (15.75) for this season.

When link-up play is a pretty critical element for a ten Hag striker, along with all of those factors, it’s nowhere near worth the hassle to spend millions on this player.

That being said, I’m sure that a player like Núñez will thrive in a team that prioritises offensive transitions or perhaps plays in a strike partnership, given the Uruguayan’s tendencies to drift to the areas on the left.

So this leads me on to my ideal choice for the long-term centre-forward role for Manchester United; Gianluca Scamacca.

(Photo by Luca Amedeo Bizzarri/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

When we look at young and promising strikers, there aren’t too many better than Scamacca.

Scoring 16 goals in the Serie A as well as having dominant physical traits, notably being his height, strength and power, it’s no surprise that the 23-year-old is being compared to Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Upon analysing what kind of striker the 6’5 Italian international is, he could be described as a forward who’s mobile, physical and technically gifted.

He can make runs into wide areas, act as a target man and focal point, drop in the midfield to assist with progressing the ball and he can occupy himself next to the last man and burst through with a run in behind.

His heatmap from this season has highlighted his mobility.

Gianluca Scamacca’s heatmap (source: SofaScore)

It’s clear that United will need a striker who can hold the ball up, as while Ronaldo has been a prolific striker thus far, his hold-up play hasn’t been one of his major qualities.

Scamacca, due to his height, strength and dribbling allows him more often than not to retain possession under pressure.

If the big Italian can receive the ball in damaging areas, he’s more than likely to score as quite a few of his goals scored this season have displayed his impressive technique when shooting.

His power and accuracy is decent, which has seen him register 7th for shots on target (41) in the Serie A.

I feel that while Scamacca still has quite a lot to improve on, he already has quite an impressive acumen already as a promising striker.

Ten Hag could get Sébastien Haller, a striker who struggled in the Premier League, to score 34 goals in 43 games.

There is every chance that should Manchester United go for the Sassuolo striker, the club will get good value for money.

But, if the club want Scamacca they will have to act very quickly as a number of top clubs, including Inter Milan are very interested in him.

Sassuolo value the Italian at around €35–40 million, which is pretty cheap given Benfica value Darwin Núñez at around double the price.

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