Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag confirmed Wout Weghorst is close to joining the club but will not sign in time to feature in Saturday’s derby.
United have been on the hunt for a new striker ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s acrimonious exit in November, with the Portugal forward having his contract terminated after an explosive interview.
Over the past week or so, Weghorst – who is on loan at Besiktas from Burnley – emerged as a likely candidate to fill the void until the end of the season.
Reports on Thursday suggested United reached an agreement to pay Besiktas £2.5million (€3m) to take over their loan arrangement with Weghorst, who has scored eight Super Lig goals in 16 games this season.
Some supporters have been indifferent about the prospect of signing a player who netted just twice in 20 Premier League games last term as Burnley were relegated, but a deal is seemingly near – just not close enough for him to face Manchester City this weekend.
Speaking to reporters about the rumours on Friday, Ten Hag said: “I think we are close, so he will not be available for tomorrow, no.”
But with United unable to get a deal for Weghorst over the line sooner, they could once again see their options at centre-forward limited for the visit of City.
Anthony Martial has been plagued by injuries this season and is struggling with another issue, leaving Ten Hag unsure of his availability for the match.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 13, 2023
Asked to provide general fitness updates, the manager added: “[Diogo] Dalot is not available, and Martial trained this morning, so we wait to see how he recovered and if he’s available. That will be decided tomorrow.
“It’s a small thing, in his leg, so I will be [waiting for] tomorrow, otherwise he’ll be available for Wednesday, I think.”
United are somewhat stretched in the attacking department, with Martial proving unreliable in terms of fitness and Jadon Sancho still absent after being granted time away to improve his mental sharpness.
But Ten Hag is not panicking, pointing out United have done well without Martial and Weghorst in recent weeks.
“Weghorst wasn’t available in the last weeks, so it would be a bonus if he was [able to face City],” Ten Hag said. “I hope soon he will be there.
“But also we have had a month of winning a lot of games without Anthony Martial.”
United welcome City to Old Trafford looking to avenge a 6-3 defeat in October. Victory for the Red Devils will see them move to within a point of the champions.
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