Manchester United report: 'the new Thierry Henry' set for huge move this summer

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag makes notes during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on March 5, 2023.
(Image credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Manchester United are preparing a big move for a player dubbed 'the new Thierry Henry'. 

The Red Devils have hit the buffers of late after winning the League Cup, struggling in recent matches against the likes of Liverpool and Southampton. While there is an acceptance that they need to strengthen across the field, the lack of a world-class striker alongside Marcus Rashford on the left flank is one of the clearest weaknesses in the team. 

Manchester United have been linked extensively with Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen in recent weeks – but with both players comes the problem of negotiating with the infamously hard-nosed Tottenham Hotspur and Napoli. A solution may have presented itself, however.

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Carabao Cup quarter-final match between Manchester United and Charlton Athletic on 10 January, 2023 at Old Trafford in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Manchester United are chasing a player similar in style to Marcus Rashford (Image credit: Simon Stacpoole/Offside via Getty Images)

According to PianetaMilan (opens in new tab) in Italy, Rafael Leao is on the radar for the Red Devils, as well as being a target for the likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and United's neighbours, Manchester City

The AC Milan man was integral to I Rossoneri's first Scudetto title in 11 years last term striking 11 goals in 34 last season and has hitting another eight in the league this season. Crucially for a manager who enjoys positional rotation like Erik ten Hag, Leao is capable from either the left flank or as a centre-forward – similar to the talismanic Rashford.

The Portuguese is locked in contract talks with Milan, who he joined in 2019. There is a possibility that he may have outgrown Italian football, however – and with his current deal expiring in 2024, this summer might be the best time to cash in on him.

Compared favourably with the legendary Thierry Henry, Leao has a similar running style for his height and build, coming off the left flank to finish chances centrally. His strength and physicality make him a solid option as a lone No.9 to complement Rashford out left – though he has the pace and trickier to operate on the touchline. 

Rafael Leao of AC Milan reacts during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Atalanta BC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 26, 2023 in Milan, Italy.

Erik ten Hag has made it clear that Harry Maguire isn't in his long-term plans (Image credit: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

After representing his nation at every youth level, Leao made his Portugal debut in 2021, two years after moving to Italy from Lille. A 20% sell-on clause (opens in new tab) was included in his move to Milan, however, meaning that the seven-time European champions will likely demand a much higher fee than the €35 million that they paid for his services. 

Leao is valued at €85m by Transfermarkt (opens in new tab)

More Manchester United stories

Manchester United are looking to capitalise on their resurgence in the transfer market, with big new signings. Victor Osimhen is one option for €100m, Declan Rice is on the radar and Jeremie Frimpong could arrive as a new right-back. More outlandish theories include signing Kylian Mbappe and selling Marcus Rashford to Arsenal

The Glazer ownership are not guaranteed to sell up – despite bids from lifelong fan, Sir Jim Radcliffe and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani. Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford has underlined the importance of positive mentality at Old Trafford. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.