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£212m spent, 3 loans and 2 legends - Man United are no closer to signing their most important player

In 10 years Manchester United have signed nine strikers. Four of them for a fee, three of them on loan and two ageing veterans for nothing aside from one big final contract. From Odion Ighalo and Wout Weghorst to Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There has been no pattern to the spending and the rewards have been sparse.

The last striker United signed that moved the dial was in 2012, when Sir Alex Ferguson raided Arsenal to sign Robin van Persie. His goals drove them to one final title under Ferguson and it was an example of United flexing their muscle to sign an elite performer from a Premier League rival.

These days they don’t bother to compete for the best players. They withdrew from the pursuit of Harry Kane as quicky as they possibly could last summer and were so far behind their rivals that Old Trafford was never a destination that Erling Haaland would consider.

The loan deals for Ighalo and Weghorst left them a laughing stock. The return for Ronaldo was sepia-tinted but was never a good idea. Radamel Falcao was a disaster and Ibrahimovic a stop-gap solution until serious injury struck. Cavani was a cult hero for a couple of months because he had a good song.

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Romelu Lukaku looked a guarantee of goals but he never really fit in. Now the responsibility falls to Rasmus Hojlund, a young player striving to do his best but clearly overvalued at £72million at the moment.

That makes eight. Who was the other one? Ah yes, one of the first to arrive. Anthony Martial will leave this summer nine years after being signed for £50million and after contributing 90 goals in 317 games.

Read more on manchestereveningnews.co.uk