Erik ten Hag has two wildcards who could boost his Man United squad in January window

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Manchester United are expected to recruit a new striker in January, but Erik ten Hag could still call on two current players.

Erik ten Hag has already admitted that Manchester United are keen to sign a new striker in the January transfer window, but the club are looking at the loan market, rather than a permanent transfer. With Cristiano Ronaldo having recently left the club following his controversial interview, the Reds are certainly in need of attacking reinforcements.

Following a £225million spend in the summer, funds are limited at Old Trafford. United were heavily linked with a move for Cody Gakpo prior to his move to Liverpool – and Ten Hag remains an admirer of the player. However, given that the Dutch attacker typically operates from the left, and the fact that he was never going to depart on loan, a move was never truly contemplated.

Instead, a short-term move for a striker is the most likely outcome in January. The Reds have been linked with a host of forward players, including Joao Felix, Goncalo Ramos and Victor Osimhen, while also being touted as a potential destination for Memphis Depay once again.

With Ronaldo gone, Anthony Martial is the only natural No. 9 in Ten Hag’s squad, although Marcus Rashford has been pressed into service as a centre-forward at times this season. The latter, however, has been much more effective playing from the left and has looked more comfortable in that position. Should Martial get injured, Rashford could certainly do a job – but it would mean that the Reds would have to replace him on the left.

Ten Hag has not been afraid to integrate young players into his squad – on both the training pitch and during matches. Alejandro Garnacho, for example, has registered two goals and two assists in 10 appearances this term. The Argentine has taken his chance when it has come his way, and has proven to be a reliable option for United.

Unlike Garnacho, 21-year-old Facundo Pellistri is yet to even feature for the club – despite impressing on the international stage with Uruguay. He is yet to make his United debut more than two years on from arriving for £9million, but featured in all three Group H matches for his country in Qatar.

The South American outfit failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament, which prevented Pellistri from further demonstrating his quality in front of the world. He started the opening match against South Korea and impressed off the bench against Portugal in the penultimate group stage match. The attacker was then brought back into the starting line-up for the final match against Ghana.

While he didn’t register a goal or an assist at the tournament, his strong showings led to many people suggesting that he could play a role for United for the remainder of the season. Despite this, he was only on the bench against Burnley in the Carabao Cup, and didn’t even make the squad for the win over Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.

Although the player has been linked with a move away – which has included his agent hinting as much – Ten Hag has suggested that Pellistri could play a key role for the club in the second half of the campaign. It will be down to the Dutchman to give him the opportunity, but Pellistri has already shown that he can shine on the biggest stage.

Meanwhile, one player that has taken a different approach this season is Amad. The 20-year-old Ivorian is spending the season on loan with Championship side Sunderland, and he has registered six goals in 18 league appearances this term. After a slow start to the season, the young attacker has come alive in recent weeks.

United have an option to recall the winger from his loan spell, but given his impressive form, there is a chance that the Reds will allow him to remain with the Black Cats to, hopefully, flourish. Should the club make the decision to recall him, it would be a test of his character to see if he was able to quickly adapt.

Amad has recorded seven goal contributions in his last 10 matches for Sunderland, but it is vital that the £37million signing, largely unused by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ralf Rangnick and Ten Hag, continues to perform for the remainder of the campaign. Given his costly price tag, he is simply under more pressure than other young players.

Given that Antony still flatters to deceive, as well as the club’s surfeit of right-footed left-wingers, there will be a temptation for the club to recall the Ivorian. While there is every chance that he would step up and deliver, his preference is likely to be remaining at Sunderland for the campaign.

Both Pellistri and Amad are more than capable of shining for Ten Hag’s side, and it could come down to the trust that the Dutchman is willing to place in the pair.

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