A surprising transfer rumour cropped up this week when The Sun claimed Manchester United had sent scouts to watch Umar Sadiq in action.
If you have heard the name, and can’t quite place him, he was the gangly striker leading the line for Partizan Belgrade in their two Europa League games earlier this season.
Sadiq is an awkward striker to face. He caused our defence problems in the away fixture. The problem, unhelpfully for him, was his shooting. All three efforts missed the target, with one hitting the woodwork.
He can find the net though. This season he has managed an impressive 17 goals from 35 games, and 16 assists too. That’s quite a record.
Sadiq is 23-years-old and represented Nigeria’s Olympic team in 2016. He has had an interesting career path to this point.
He signed by Roma as a youngster, and loaned out to various clubs around Europe, before Partizan took up an option-to-buy in January.
By far best stint of his career
Sadiq’s form at Partizan Belgrade is little short of a mini-miracle, after the worst year of his career in 2018/19.
He was signed by Steven Gerrard’s Rangers on loan that year, and then never given a proper chance. When he did play, he looked off the pace, and his loan was cut short. Rangers supporters are astounded at his turnaround.
Simply being linked with United is an achievement for Sadiq, let alone signing at Old Trafford. But as his countryman Odion Ighalo has shown, you can never rule anything out.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was impressed by Sadiq after the first game in Belgrade.
He told United’s website: “They’re a team with some pace, a big strong striker and some talent in there.”
It would not be surprising if Solskjaer at least asked United scouts to follow Sadiq’s progress, for future reference, if he was sufficiently intrigued by him.
Sadiq’s contract at Partizan only runs until June 2022, and he would likely not cost a big fee.
His rangy game makes him a difficult player for opponents to deal with, and he could become an effective plan B in certain situations due to his height, which United have lacked in attacking areas since Marouane Fellaini was sold.
Sadiq has returned to Partizan in good form since the Serbian league restarted. He has two goals and one assist in two games.
It would be surprising if United did sign another striker now after extending Odion Ighalo’s deal, but if we did, a cheap punt on a player who offers a genuine alternative in style, may make him an interesting buy.
Obviously the way his spell at Rangers went down would be a concern, but Sadiq deserves credit for turning his career around, and learning from this.
A move to United is probably unlikely, but at just 23, there’s a player in there somewhere, who is just beginning to blossom, and may get a lot better.
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