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By David Alexander Hughes

Manchester United have reportedly been monitoring exciting young French attacker Hugo Ekitike as they prepare for a major squad overhaul in the summer. Erik ten Hag will have the final say on the targets the club eventually pursue, and Ekitike is thought to be one of the ones he’s most interested in, according to ESPN.

The Reds will be in the market for at least one new striker, and Ekitike’s potential plus his rumoured transfer value, thought to be as low as £13million, does make him a very appealing prospect from a United perspective. They could face stiff competition for his signature, though, with a number of Premier League sides such as Arsenal and Newcastle also thought to be scouting the teenager.

It’s easy to see why he’s attracting such attention after enjoying what’s been a breakout campaign for Ligue 1 side Reims, netting nine league goals in just 21 appearances.

In terms of a profile, Ekitike’s is very unique. He stands at 6ft2in, making him an obvious threat in the air and a good target man. Yet despite his height, his ability with the ball at his feet shouldn't be underestimated.

The right-footed teenager is a keen dribbler and will often look to drop into deeper areas on the left in order to receive the ball before turning and driving at a defence. He’s averaged over five dribbles per 90 this season with a success rate of over 50 per cent. To put that into some sort of context, at United, Jadon Sancho has averaged 4.81 per 90 this season with a success rate of 50 per cent.

Although this attacking skill makes him a valuable contributor to his team's build-up play, it’s Ekitike’s threat in front of goal that will of course appeal to United officials most. Reims aren’t the most free-flowing attacking side under manager Óscar García, a point captured by the fact that only three Ligue 1 sides have attempted fewer shots than them this season.

A consequence of the same is that their forwards aren’t usually presented with that many shooting opportunities, at least in comparison to strikers leading the line at other bigger clubs.

According to Wyscout, Ekitike has had just 27 shots on goal all season, which means his return of nine equates to a rather impressive goal conversion rate. In fact, for all players from across Europe’s top five leagues who have scored five or more non-penalty league goals this season, Ekitike’s conversion rate of 33.33 per cent ranks as the fifth-highest, bettering elite strikers such as Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

Although it’s still early days in his senior career, Ekitike is highlighting himself as one of Europe’s most exciting young forwards and he looks set to have a bright future. That could well be at United if they look to formalise their interest this summer.

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