Manchester United’s search for a striker is ongoing with reports claiming that Benfica and Portugal striker Gonçalo Ramos is on the club’s shortlist.
Date of Birth: 20/06/2001 (21)
Strong Foot: Right
Height: 1,85m (6ft)
Who is Gonçalo Ramos?
Gonçalo Ramos announced himself on the world stage during the World Cup by scoring a hat-trick in Portugal’s 6-1 win over Switzerland. While Ramos might’ve been an unknown to many people before the World Cup, his performance against Switzerland wasn’t a massive surprise to those who’ve watched him regularly this season. The Portuguese international has been in the form of his life this season. He’s featured 22 times for Benfica so far in all competitions and has found the back of the net on 15 occasions.Embed from Getty Images
The 21 year-old has now made a name for himself as one of the most exciting young attacking talents in European Football with a number of Europe’s elite clubs interested in securing his signature. Numerous reports claim that Ramos is a player on United’s striker shortlist and he’s a player that Erik ten Hag likes. According to Jason Burt of The Telegraph, United were already tracking Ramos before the World Cup but he is more likely to move at the end of the season rather than in January.
Ramos has a number of strengths to his game. He’s played as an out-and-out striker for the majority of his career. However, last season, he was deployed as a shadow striker on many occasions, with Darwin Núñez leading the line. This led to a drop in his goal tally as he only managed to score eight times in 46 appearances for the Portuguese giants. However, under new boss Roger Schmidt, Ramos has been utilised as the no.9 and has been exceptional for Benfica, who are currently well on track to win their 38th Portuguese league title. He has already almost doubled his goal tally for Benfica in comparison to last season, despite having played 24 games less.Embed from Getty Images
Ramos would really suit the type of football Erik ten Hag wants to play at Manchester United. He’s shown this season how effective he is as a lone striker in a possession-based side. His link-up play is really good and he’s capable of dropping into deeper areas to get the ball. From a tactical point of view, he’s quite a smart player, is clever with his short passing and his movement around the penalty box is also really intelligent. Another massive strength in his game is that he’s an extremely hard worker. He’s an aggressive presser and works really hard off the ball to win possession back high up the pitch.
In front of goal, Ramos is an extremely composed and clinical finisher, and that’s one of his biggest strengths. He’s also very good aerially, which means he poses a serious threat from crosses and set-pieces. While he is predominantly right-footed, he’s also quite good with his left. Out of his 9 league goals for Benfica so far this season, 3 have been with his left foot and 2 of his 3 goals vs Switzerland were also with his left foot.
As good as Ramos is, just like most young players, he obviously has his weaknesses. His first touch is something that could be improved. Over the last year, he’s averaged 2.48 ‘miscontrols’ per 90 for Benfica and while that’s not awful, it certainly could be improved as it lets him down at times. Another small weakness is that, while he necessarily isn’t slow, he’s also not the quickest. This sometimes lets him down when he’s trying to push forward with the ball at his feet.
Where would he fit in?
There’s no doubt that United have a lot of talent in attack but the club lacks depth in the striker position. Anthony Martial is Erik ten Hag’s only specialist striker and as good as he’s been this season when on the pitch, his frequent injuries have proved him to be unreliable. If Ramos were to move to Manchester United, he’d be the club’s main striker with Martial there to provide the Portuguese international with competition for his spot in the starting line-up.
VerdictEmbed from Getty Images
It will take time before Manchester United start consistently playing the way Erik ten Hag wants to. However, after only a few months, we’ve already seen glimpses and when Ten Hag gets all the players he wants and also helps current players completely adapt to his system, we will see a Manchester United side that would really suit a striker like Ramos so it’s no surprise that Ten Hag is reportedly a fan of the 21-year-old forward. There are obviously a few areas in his game that need improvement but he’s still very young so that’s expected.
A big positive about Ramos is that he plays in Portugal and players who’ve moved to Premier League clubs over the last few years have been very successful. It’s a market United certainly needs to explore more. Rúben Dias who joined Manchester City from Benfica in 2020 has developed into one of the best defenders in the league. Bruno Fernandes who moved to Old Trafford from Sporting has been one of United’s standout performers in recent years and the most recent example is João Palhinha who has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League since joining Fulham from Sporting in the summer.
The downside to Ramos is he’d likely be quite expensive, especially if he keeps up his current form in the second half of the season. However, United will likely spend big money on a striker in the summer anyway. The Red Devils have been linked of course to Ramos himself, as well as Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Dusan Vlahovic who’s currently at Juventus. It’s up to Ten Hag and his staff to choose the player they think would be best. While there are many good options United could go for, Ramos will certainly be high up on Erik ten Hag’s shortlist.