Man United close to securing Weghorst after Ronaldo exit

AP , Friday 13 Jan 2023

Manchester United is closing in on the signing of Netherlands striker Wout Weghorst to help fill the void left by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Wout Weghorst
Leicester s Caglar Soyuncu, right and Burnley s Wout Weghorst challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Leicester City at Turf Moor stadium in Burnley, England, on March 1, 2022 (AP)

Weghorst is set to join on loan from Burnley until the end of the season, but he will not be eligible to play against Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday.

"I think we are close ... he won't be available for tomorrow,'' United manager Erik ten Hag said at a news conference on Friday.

Weghorst, who was already on loan at Turkish club Besiktas, appears a surprising replacement for Ronaldo. The soccer great had his contract terminated by United in November after conducting an explosive interview with Piers Morgan in which he criticized Ten Hag and the club's owners.

Ronaldo has since signed for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.

Ten Hag has been keen to bring in cover in attack to boost his team's push for Champions League qualification and its pursuit of a trophy in his first season in charge.

Ronaldo's departure left United with only two senior strikers in Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

Weghorst played for the Netherlands at the World Cup in Qatar and scored two goals in his country's dramatic quarterfinal match against Argentina. He scored twice late on to send the match to extra time and penalties before Argentina won 4-3 in the shootout.

The 30-year-old Weghorst has scored eight goals for Besiktas this season, including two in his last three games.

Weghorst joined Burnley in a $15 million deal from German club Wolfsburg in January last year. He managed only two goals in 20 appearances as Burnley was relegated from the Premier League.

United was linked with a move for Cody Gakpo this month, but the Netherlands forward instead joined rival Liverpool.

Ten Hag is expected to move for a long-term replacement for Ronaldo in the summer, with Harry Kane among the players linked.

United midfielder Donny van de Beek has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

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