Solskjaer would sign a version of himself but is happy with his striking options
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Manchester United are a player short up front – and could do with a “young Ole” in the box.
United changed their floundering attack following a tumultuous 2018-19 campaign, with wantaway striker Romelu Lukaku shifted to Inter Milan earlier this month.
The Belgium international has been followed to San Siro by flop Alexis Sanchez, whose star has fallen so far that United are understood to be paying around £6.5million of his wages during his loan spell.
Solskjaer had talked up the Chile forward’s chances of staying just a fortnight ago, saying he would get minutes as the Old Trafford giants “don’t have the biggest forward line in numbers”.
The United boss also said during the summer that any further departures like Lukaku would be replaced, leading him to admit they are a striker short.
“At the moment we are creating but of course you are always looking for someone to improve us – and we did and we were looking,” Solskjaer said.
“As I said on the way back from (pre-season) tour, we were still looking for one replacement for Romelu if he went.
“We are one down, to be fair, but we just didn’t find the right one, we didn’t find the answer that we wanted.”
Solskjaer ruled out the chance of moving for a free agent to bolster numbers, insisting he was happy with the transfer business despite being light of one body in attack.
Ideally, the Norwegian would have liked somebody a bit like, well, himself.
“Well, I do like the one who scores scrappy goals in and around the box – a young Ole or something,” the 1999 treble hero said.
“It doesn’t have to be a 195 (centimetres) centre forward, no.
“But it could have been… sometimes you think ‘if we want to play with two up, maybe a different type to what we have’.”
But Solskjaer’s desire for another attacking option does not dim his belief in those at his disposal.
Teenager Mason Greenwood could step up and start at Southampton on Saturday in place of injury Anthony Martial, who Solskjaer believes will carry enough of a threat this season along with Marcus Rashford.
“Yeah – if not, I would not just have them,” Solskjaer said.
“We would sign someone else or we would keep someone else. We believe in them, definitely, yeah.”
As for Sanchez, Solskjaer believes the loan move work for both parties and could “see Alexis back” after a year of regular football at Inter.
Asked whether the Chilean still has a future at United, he said: “Yeah, definitely because this is loan for a year.
“Chris (Smalling) deal is a loan for a year (with Roma). We expect them to be professional, go there and represent United as well. We want them to do well.”
Matteo Darmian looks set to become the fourth United player to move to Serie A, but Solskjaer ruled out exits for Fred and Marcos Rojo.
The United boss gave short shrift to talk about Paul Pogba ahead of the international break but was more forthcoming on the form of Jesse Lingard following his England call-up.
“Jesse has never been the most prolific centre forward in front of goal, and scoring goals,” Solskjaer said of out-of-sorts attacking midfielder.
“If you look throughout his career, he has other attributes and Jesse’s contribution this season has been fantastic, for me.
“His first day in training, he has shown that he is determined to stay in the team, to show me that he wants to because his application in training and in games.
“Of course, sometimes you want him to be more in front of goal but he does so much other stuff. I left him out against AC Milan, he scored when he came on. Then he scored two the day after when we played Blackburn here.
“He can take criticism, being left out because he has got the right character to bounce back, so I don’t expect Jesse to be any different.
“I pick him, Gareth (Southgate) picks him, he knows he’s a good player and we value him.”