Andy Cole has cast doubt over whether Mason Greenwood will follow in his footsteps and become Manchester United ’s central striker for years to come, naming Erling Haaland and Harry Kane as two possible transfer targets.
The 19-year-old has already clocked up over 100 appearances for the Red Devils since making his debut at the age of 17 under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
He has already scored 31 goals for the club, bagging 12 in 52 appearances last season after playing a more important role under the Norwegian.
The £73million signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund will give Solskjaer more options to change around his three attackers behind the main striker.
And with Marcus Rashford sidelined due to shoulder surgery, it could be the perfect opportunity for Greenwood to play through the middle.
Former United frontman Cole knows what it takes to thrive in that role, having struck a fine partnership with strike partner Dwight Yorke during the club’s golden period under Sir Alex Ferguson.
But he believes Greenwood may struggle with the pressure of taking the lead as Man United’s main goal-getter.
“I don’t actually think that Mase [Greenwood] wants to play as a centre forward,” he told Premier League Productions.
“That is a difficult, difficult role. To be a No9… that’s pressure.
“If you play off the left or right that’s different, but being a No9 at Old Trafford [is tough].”
Greenwood made a lasting impression in the first game of the season, finishing with a sublime effort in the second half after a brilliant assist from Paul Pogba.
That demonstrated that the England international could have a future in a more centralised position when Cavani eventually retires.
But Cole sought to clarify why he felt Greenwood was not suited to playing as an out-and-out striker, insisting the talented forward is better suited across the front three due to his adaptability.
“I think with Mase’s talent he’s fortunate that he can play across the front line,” he added.
“But listening to some of the coaches, Fletch [Darren Fletcher], people like that who I speak to, I don’t think he’s fixed on becoming a No9.”
Cole, 46, has suggested that United could eventually target a world-class striker to spearhead the attack, name-checking Erling Haaland and Harry Kane as potential targets.
“If you listen to the noises Ole’s making, come next season they may look to buy a [Erling] Haaland or a [Harry] Kane, if he’s still available,” he said.
“They’re looking long-term, Mase won’t be a No.9 but he’ll play. They want a No.9.”
Edinson Cavani looks set to line up for the first time this season in attack after Anthony Martial failed to find the target in the 5-1 win over Leeds.
Sancho is also in line for a start which could see Greenwood either drop to the bench or compete with Cavani for a start leading the line.