Who is alleged Manchester United January target Nikola Krstovic?

Sports Mole takes a closer look at Lecce forward Nikola Krstovic, who is being linked with a January move to Manchester United.

Manchester United are allegedly considering making a move for Lecce forward Nikola Krstovic when the January transfer window opens for business.

The Red Devils are widely expected to sign a new striker in the winter market to ease the pressure on Rasmus Hojlund, who has five goals to his name following a summer switch from Atalanta BC.

Hojlund is yet to find the back of the net in the Premier League, though, while his back-up, Anthony Martial, has just one goal, which came in the EFL Cup.

Marcus Rashford has also netted just once in a poor start to the campaign, and the 20-time English champions have managed just 13 goals in 12 Premier League matches this term.

To put Man United’s goalscoring issues into context, Manchester City are the top scorers in the Premier League this term with 32, while Burnley are the lowest with nine.

As a result, a new forward is set to arrive in January, and Krstovic has allegedly emerged as an option, so with that in mind, Sports Mole takes a closer look at the 23-year-old.

Montenegro's Nikola Krstovic on March 24, 2023© Reuters

Krstovic came through the youth system at Montenegrin outfit FK Zeta, debuting for their first team in 2016, and he went on to score 41 times in 96 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The forward actually became the youngest player to ever feature in the Montenegrin First League when he took to the field at the age of 16 years and 18 days old in April 2016.

Red Star Belgrade signed him in 2019, but he only managed three goals in 27 appearances during a difficult spell, which included a loan period at Graficar Beograd.

In 2021, Krstovic joined DAC Dunajska Streda, scoring 37 goals and registering eight assists in 66 appearances for the Slovakian outfit, with his form attracting a host of attention.

Scottish giants Rangers were linked with a move for him earlier this year, but he ultimately made the move to Italian side Lecce in the middle of August, and his form has been impressive in Italy.

Montenegro's Nikola Krstovic celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 24, 2023© Reuters

The striker has managed four goals in his opening 12 appearances for the club, finding the back of the net against Fiorentina, Salernitana, Monza and Sassuolo in Serie A.

Inter Milan are said to be keeping a close eye on the Montenegro international, who has managed two goals in 12 appearances for his country.

Krstovic has netted twice during his nation’s Euro 2024 qualification process, and he is also in their squad for the upcoming fixtures with Lithuania and Hungary.

The forward has a contract with Lecce until June 2027, with the option of a further 12 months, but there have been suggestions that he could be available for as little as for as little as €10m (£8.7m) in January.

There would be an element of a risk attached to the deal considering his lack of experience at the top level, but if a cut-price deal could be agreed, it might be a move that Man United feel is worth it.

Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe is pictured at Old Trafford in Manchester, Britain, March 17, 2023© Reuters

The arrival of minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, which is expected to be confirmed in the near future, will allegedly see Man United’s January transfer budget boosted.

The team’s issues in the final third of the field are obvious, and with Jadon Sancho set to move on, there is certainly space in the squad to add another forward.

January remains a difficult month for transfer business, with clubs determined not to let key players leave, but Lecce would find it very difficult to resist an offer from a club of Man United’s ilk.

Rashford still is not firing, with Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay actually the team’s leading goalscorers in the league this season with three each.

Hojlund’s move has been a success, with the Denmark showing his potential by netting five times in the Champions League, but he is in desperate need of some help in the second half of the campaign, and Krstovic is a very interesting option for the club considering his potential.

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