Manchester United ponder move for former Leicester striker Islam Slimani

Jamie Jackson
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Régis Duvignau/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Régis Duvignau/Reuters

Manchester United are weighing up a loan move for the Leicester City striker Islam Slimani. The 31-year-old has been offered to United as Ole Gunnar Solskjær looks to add cover for Marcus Rashford, who has a long-term back injury. Slimani has been on loan at Monaco this season where he has scored seven goals in 14 appearances. Yet the temporary move to the Ligue 1 club is a third since signing for the Foxes in a £29m deal in summer 2016.

The Algerian has also had half-season loans at Newcastle United, where he failed to score a league goal, and Fenerbahce, where he managed one. If United were to move for Slimani, Leicester might demand a fee of up to £5m for a player who would in effect be the third-choice striker behind Anthony

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Martial and Mason Greenwood. The potential move comes at a time when Solskjær admits managing United demands more mental strength than at any other club.

Solskjær hopes to prevent United losing three consecutive games for the first time since last April in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Tranmere Rovers. After defeats by Liverpool and Burnley Solskjær is facing renewed questions regarding his job. David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were convinced they would be granted time to turn around United’s fortunes but were sacked.He was asked why he thinks he will be different. “When you start on something, you stick to that plan, for me anyway,” he said. “I’m not going to change six or nine or 10 months into the job and start believing in a different way.

“I’m going to stick to what I’ve been entrusted to do by the club and hopefully that will be good enough and they can see what we’re doing is right.

“We know how football is nowadays. We can’t react to all the noise outside; of course there’s always going to be criticism. You’ve got to take the criticism at this club. You’ve got to be stronger mentally probably than anywhere else in the world. I feel I am. The club is strong, the staff I’ve got with me are very strong mentally, so we’re sticking to what we believe in and I’ve got full faith in what we’re doing.”

Pep Guardiola has spent £500m-plus in his four years at Manchester City. It was put to Solskjær that United will not allow him to do the same.

“We do have a way of doing things,” he said. “You can see other teams have done well [their way]. Jürgen [Klopp] spent four years building his [Liverpool] team and they’re doing well. It’s not going to be a quick fix. It’s not going to be eight players in or 10 players in one transfer window. We’ve had one proper transfer window, in the summer, because the Januarys are difficult, but we are still trying to do something now.

“Our fans know what we have started on and I’ve been trusted to do that job by the club and for me that rebuild doesn’t go one way all the time, [as in] we’re doing great, we’re doing great. The foundation has to be laid and the culture properly set and with this group I feel I have a good core of players that believe in themselves and what we’re doing. I trust them to be good lads carrying us forward, with some signings of course and players coming back from injuries.

“You don’t just take the roof off when you need to knock your house down. You need to put the foundations in first. You don’t just start with the roof. We’ve had a couple of rainy days and we wish that roof was on but we can’t hide.”

Solskjær said the mood among the players was upbeat in the club despite Wednesday night’s dismal display against Burnley.

Rashford’s continued absence is being felt at Old Trafford and Paul Pogba will be missing again this weekend with an ankle problem but the defender Victor Lindelöf has recovered from illness and is available for the meeting with Tranmere.

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