Former Manchester United (opens in new tab) interim manager Ralf Rangnick has encouraged striker Sasa Kalajdzic to stay put at Stuttgart – amid rumours that the Austrian is a target for the Red Devils.
Towering above defenders at 6ft 7in, Kalajdzic is one of the most imposing centre-forwards in Europe – as he showed last year at Euro 2020, where he scored in Austria's last 16 defeat to Italy.
Rangnick was named Austria manager in April – an appointment which ultimately saw him leave United rather than take up his planned consultancy role at Old Trafford.
Kalajdzic appears to be a man in demand, with Chelsea, Everton and West Ham also said to be interested – but Rangnick has advised him to prioritise his development following an injury-truncated 2021-22. Speaking to Sky Sport Austria, the German said (opens in new tab):
"It is important that Sasa stays injury-free this season and trains and plays at the highest possible level.
"If he stays in Stuttgart this season, it will not be a disadvantage for his development."
The 25-year-old missed more than half of the Bundesliga campaign last term after dislocating his shoulder (although he still managed six goals at a rate of 0.44/90).
Will he heed Rangnick's advice? Time will tell – but in any case, United appear eager to bolster their front line with a bruising striker before the transfer window closes on 1 September.
Kalajdzic's international colleague Marko Arnautovic emerged as a surprise potential option for the 13-time Premier League champions – who got off to a poor start under new boss Erik ten Hag, losing their 2022-23 opener 2-1 at home to Brighton (opens in new tab).
According to Sky Sports (opens in new tab), the Red Devils tabled a £7.6m bid for the Bologna man – who has previously played in England with Stoke and West Ham – but, after it was rejected, pulled out of the deal after ex-United players raised concerns.
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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...