Manchester United were left frustrated this week as their arch rivals Liverpool managed to secure the signing of their long-term target Cody Gakpo.
The PSV Eindhoven forward was wanted by fellow Dutchman Erik ten Hag in the summer, and was touted for a move to Old Trafford in January, but Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool moved quickly in Boxing Day to reach an agreement with the Eredivisie side and the player. The deal for Gakpo is now all but done, with him undergoing medicals and then he'll sign a five-and-a-half year deal.
To make it even worse for United fans, a number of reports are indicating that due to the club being up for sale and around £200 million spent during the summer, a limited amount of funds are available for the January transfer window.
The Guardian's Jamie Jackson reported that as a result, United are more likely to sign a striker on loan rather than on a permanent deal in January, as the focus will remain on the summer market, following the club's usual policy.
Hence, we have compiled a list of five forward targets United have been linked to, and could realistically get in the winter window.
Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
Joao Felix has been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid for months, as he has struggled to replicate the form he had at Benfica which encouraged the Spanish side to splash out £113 million in 2019.
Felix has now grown frustrated in Spain, and is pushing for a move away, with the likes of Chelsea and United being interested.
However, Atleti would only be willing to offload him if they get a fee close to the one they paid for him, or else on loan. While a loan move would be ideal for United, Atletico Madrid are reportedly keen on having a loan fee inserted in the deal, thus making a move highly unlikely.
Additionally, Felix isn't the natural forward that Ten Hag wants for his system, with the Portuguese forward often drifting out wide and occupying other areas of the front line. While he might have a role similar to the one Dusan Tadic had under Ten Hag at Ajax, the Dutch manager has shown a willingness to incorporate a different style of play in England, so his role in the team would be in question.
Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Fresh off the back of his first FIFA World Cup, Marcus Thuram has emerged as a key target for several European sides, with the France forward's contract at Borussia Monchengladbach expiring at the end of the season.
Due to this, Gladbach are reportedly prepared to sell the 25-year-old for just £11 million in January, to avoid letting him go for free in the summer.
The Frenchman is being closely followed by United, with him being in red hot form this season, racking up 13 goals and four assists in 17 games in all competitions.
Most importantly though, in contrast to previous seasons, he has only featured as a striker, rather than being shifted out to the wings. While he would be perfect for United, they have to act quickly, as Serie A outfit Inter are planning to offer him a three-year contract, while Spurs are among the sides also in the race.
Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid)
Another forward from Diego Simeone's side, Alvaro Morata has had a turbulent few years. Ever since the disappointment at Chelsea, the Spaniard has struggled for consistency, yet he has still managed to produce in different stints in Spain and Italy.
Most notably, the forward scored 20 goals and assisted 12 times in all competitions in 2020/21, yet he has failed to replicate that sort of form since.
Morata has been a long-term target for United, and while the Red Devils might see him as an option, this will only be case should Atletico Madrid be willing to listen to loan offers, ESPN's Rob Dawson reports. Should Felix leave the club, it is highly unlikely that they will also allow the Spaniard to do the same.
Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus)
Probably the unlikeliest to happen in January, but a move for Dusan Vlahovic is definitely worth a shout.
Just a year after joining Juventus from Fiorentina, the Serbian could be set to part ways with the Bianconeri as things haven't quite gone to plan for him in Turin and isn't happy at under Massimiliano Allegri.
Vlahovic has been linked with a move to Arsenal for a number of months, but United have also emerged as a possible destination. However, the main issue for United remains that should Juve let him go, it will probably be on a permanent move, rather than on loan.
Given that he was bought for £66.6 million, Juve will not want a cut-price deal for him, and will be keen to recuperate the funds, thus almost completely putting United out of the race.
Memphis Depay (Barcelona)
As more days go by, a return to Old Trafford for Memphis Depay seems to be the best option for United.
The Dutchman struggled in his first spell at the club, yet after leaving for Lyon in 2017, he reinvented himself as a striker, and had such a prolific time in France that he earned a move to European giants Barcelona in 2021.
However, while Depay finished as the club's top scorer last season with 12 La Liga goals, the departure of Ronald Koeman put his future up in the air, especially with a number of signings up front, including Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (who then left the club), Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, along with the resurgences of Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele.
The 28-year-old has barely featured this season, scoring a goal in one of his three appearances for Barca, as he struggled with a persisting thigh injury. However, he returned to action for the Netherlands during the World Cup, even getting on the scoresheet during their 3-1 win against the United States.
The BBC's Simon Stone has claimed that Depay has been mentioned a few times as the kind of striker that United might try to sign next month.
Spanish outlet Marca have reported that Depay wants to leave the club as a free agent, not on a sale, so that he can get a better signing bonus. Additionally, he is prioritising a move to a UEFA Champions League club. He could also be available on a loan basis from Barca this January.
United aren't in Europe's top competition, but with the way things are progressing, they are well in with a shout to feature in next season's edition of the competition.
One final dance for the Dutchman at United.