Man United’s January transfer window simulated as £49m Ronaldo replacement signed

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With the January transfer window now officially open, United could be tempted to bolster their squad ahead of the second half of the season.

The January transfer window is officially upon us, and Manchester United are expected to be active this month.

Four Premier League wins on the bounce since the end of the 2022 World Cup has seen United break into the top four of the Premier League table, with Erik ten Hag‘s side joint in points with third-placed Newcastle with a game in hand. But, with Cristiano Ronaldo having departed the club, and Anthony Martial’s injury record, Ten Hag wants to try and bring a striker to the club this January.

United spent big in the 2022 summer transfer window, with the likes of Casemiro, Antony, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez all arriving in a £206m spending spree. Martin Dubravka has been recalled by Newcastle United in the first bit of January business involving United, with Crystal Palace ‘keeper Jack Butland set to replace the Slovakian as United’s number two.

So, if United were to have £40m to spend in January, who could Ten Hag and United target? We used Football Manager 2023 to simulate the January transfer window and find out.

Man United’s 2023 January transfer window simulated

To complete this simulation, we updated the United squad with the latest injuries and suspensions, allowing Football Manager 2023 to then decide who Ten Hag’s side could sign in the 2023 January transfer window. We assigned a £40m budget to United, and this is what happened.

United spent just under £49m in the January transfer window on Football Manager 2023, with three players brought to the club. The first signing of the new year was highly-rated Ajax youngster Naci Unuvar, with the winger’s loan at Trabzonspor cut short to allow a transfer to United for £11.75m.

The second transfer was another forward, with another young Netherlands attacker arriving in Noa Lang. The 23-year-old is tipped to be one of the next best forwards, and in the simulation, he signed on an initial loan from Club Brugge with an option to buy in the summer for £33.75m.

The biggest transfer came on deadline day, with Martin Terrier signing from Rennes for £37m. The 25-year-old French forward scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 last season and can play anywhere across the front three, making him the perfect option for United’s forward line.

Outgoings: £14.75m

  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Leicester City) – £14.25m
  • Bjorn Hardley (Spezia) – Six-month loan
  • Zidane Iqbal (Stoke City) – Six-month loan

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sold by Ten Hag in the 2022/23 season, joining Leicester City for £14.25m, whilst Zidane Iqbal and Bjorn Hardley went on loan to Stoke City and Spezia respectively. So, how did United perform with their new additions?

United’s 2022/23 season results after 2023 January transfer window

United improved with their new additions, with Terrier proving a fantastic signing, scoring 13 goals in his first few months at the club. Lang and Univar both saw limited game time, but the former scored the winning goal on the final day of the season to secure a third-place finish for United.

In the cups, United reached the FA Cup final, but a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea saw Ten Hag’s side eliminated. A 3-1 defeat on aggregate to Barcelona saw United exit the Europa League in the first knockout round, and they were also knocked out of the Carabao Cup in the quarter-finals after a 1-0 loss to Newcastle.

Overall, FM23 predicts that United could target attacking options in the January transfer window, with Ten Hag signing three attackers in the simulation. Terrier was the most proven signing out of the three, and he had the biggest impact as he scored 13 times, showing that it may be worth United targeting developed players rather than youth to help them claim a top-four this season.

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