Man United can line up FFP-boosting swoop for star already identified as ideal Anthony Martial replacement

Benjamin Sesko leaps into the air to celebrate after scoring for RB Leipzig.
Manchester United registered interest in Benjamin Sesko in 2022. -Credit:Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, it is no secret that changes are in the offing at Manchester United this summer.

Following confirmation of Sir Jim Ratcliffe's minority investment in February, the Failsworth-born businessman has wasted little time in stamping his authority at Old Trafford. After immediately addressing urgent off-field issues, attention will soon switch to strengthening the squad ahead of the 2024/25 campaign.

United, as reported by the Manchester Evening News in February, are planning for record sales. It is possible the number of players released or sold could run into double figures.

As well as needing to use the transfer market to offload players, it is also possible United will also make the most of expiring contracts to clear the decks. That will be the case as far as Anthony Martial is concerned.

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The Frenchman's deal is up at the end of June and he is not going to be offered fresh terms, meaning his nine-year spell in M16 will draw to a close – leaving Rasmus Hojlund as the club's only out-and-out senior centre-forward. Manager Erik ten Hag has already confirmed that United will have to act on that by bringing in a second striker in as many years.

"I think it would help [to sign a striker]," he said. "As I always had in this plan we constructed that we should have had enough goals. You count on goals from Rashy [Marcus Rashford] – last season he had 30 – you count on goals from Martial."

Martial's impending exit, as Ten Hag has highlighted, will leave a void within the squad that requires filling. United recruited Hojlund from Atalanta last summer for £64million and he immediately became their first-choice goal-getter.

At the age of just 21, United signed the Dane with a view to him being the face of their forward line for years to come, meaning they are unlikely to invest an extravagant amount on another striker this summer when only a backup or rotation option is needed. It is why links connecting United with Ivan Toney, Victor Osimhen and even Harry Kane feel somewhat fanciful.

Instead, United could do worse than choosing to explore an avenue they have ventured down in the past and see about rekindling their interest in Benjamin Sesko. The RB Leipzig striker, who was on the books of Red Bull Salzburg at the time, was on United's radar in the 2022 summer transfer window.

Benjamin Sesko celebrates after scoring for RB Leipzig.
Benjamin Sesko has enjoyed a positive first season in Germany. -Credit:Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

As reported by the Manchester Evening News at the time, United weighed up a move for him after former football director John Murtough held talks with his agent to gauge the possibility of a move. United, in the end, did not end up recruiting a striker in Ten Hag's first summer in charge.

After another encouraging campaign at Salzburg in 2022/23, Sesko, 20, made the switch to sister club RB Leipzig in June 2023. He signed a five-year deal and has scored a respectable tally of 13 goals in 37 games so far this season.

Also the subject of reported interest from Newcastle in the past, the Slovenian is widely considered as one of the most promising strikers in European football, such is his ability to break the lines, press well and be a threat in the air. His tally of 42 goals across the past three seasons is also encouraging for a player who does not turn 21 until the end of next month.

According to widespread reports, Sesko has a release clause within his Leipzig contract that becomes active this summer and it is said to be worth £42m. United will not be able to land Toney, Osimhen or Kane for a fee so low. Challenges around FFP and PSR are hampering all Premier League clubs' abilities in the transfer market, and United will be no different this summer with the need to embark on a squad rebuild. Any money they can save in one area will be a boost for elsewhere.

While £42m is still not particularly cheap, it has the potential to be a wise investment, such is Sesko's profile and his age.

"Benjamin Sesko is among the game's top young talents and has enormous potential to become a top player," said Christopher Vivell, Leipzig's technical director. "He has all the qualities to do that.

"He's extremely quick, has a great jump on him and is strong in the air. Benjamin is a real goalscorer, who despite his 1.95m (6'4") is mobile and technically strong. His abilities make him a special player with a special profile."

Sesko's characteristics and playing style could tick a lot of boxes for United this summer.