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Who is Sasa Kalajdzic? The attacker who could be Erik ten Hag’s first Man Utd transfer

The 24-year-old Austrian has been linked with a move to Manchester United.

Manchester United have been linked with a move for Stuttgart centre-forward Sasa Kalajdzic, a name which is unlikely to be well known by most of the club’s supporters.

With Erik ten Hag beginning work at United informally this week, the focus is already building towards next season after a calamitous 2021/22 campaign.

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Ralf Rangnick will take charge of the final match of this term on Sunday when United travel to Crystal Palace, before a new era at the club begins.

Kalajdzic is the latest name linked with a switch to Old Trafford, and we have the lowdown on the striker, assess what he’d bring to the team, and have rounded up the latest reports surrounding his future…

Kalajdzic is considered one of Europe’s best young strikers. Credit: Getty.

Who is Sasa Kalajdzic?

Born in Vienna on 7 July 1997, Kalajdzic is of Bosnian-Serb descent.

The sought-after forward began his career at Austrian outfit Admira Wacker, and spent two seasons in the first team before moving to Stuttgart in 2019.

Last season was Kalajdzic’s first full campaign with Die Roten and he made an immediate impact, scoring 16 goals in 33 Bundesliga matches.

In 2021/22, his campaign has been impacted by a shoulder injury which has reduced him to just 15 appearances, although the 24-year-old has still managed an impressive six league goals.

Kalajdzic has also earned 13 international caps for Austria so far and has scored four goals, one of which came at last summer’s Euro 2020 against eventual champions Italy.

Sasa Kalajdzic scored against Italy last summer, although Austria were eliminated from the tournament by Roberto Mancini’s men. Credit: Getty.

What type of player is he?

At 6ft 6in, the attacker is certainly more of a traditional centre-forward than a nippy poacher who plays on the shoulder of the last defender.

Kalajdzic’s style has drawn comparisons to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Gomez and even Peter Crouch.

In an interview two years ago with Bundesliga.com, the Stuttgart striker was asked about his game and said: "I’m not really a classic target man, not really someone who hangs around in the box.

“I try to incorporate that into my game, to improve that area of my game, but because I played in midfield a lot when I was younger I try to be more creative, to be strong. I try to be a modern striker, despite my height.

Kalajdzic has been compared with Ibrahimovic. Credit: Getty.

“I think I do that well with my ability and the way I play. I like the way we play as well. At the moment I’m very happy. I’m not a classic No.9, maybe something between a nine and a 10, something like that maybe. A nine and a half."

In the same interview, Kalajdzic also revealed his favourite player as a child was current United midfielder Nemanja Matic.

What’s been reported?

Sky Germany claim Kalajdzic is on United’s radar, although Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are also believed to be keen on signing the forward.

“He’s on Dortmund’s list. Paris have also expressed an interest, United have enquired about him, but so far there has been no contact from the clubs to VfB [Stuttgart],” Sky Germany’s transfer expert Marc Behrenbeck said, via Sport Witness.

Kalajdzic could be available for a relatively cheap fee with his contract set to expire in 2023, meaning he may cost as little as £17m.

While the Austrian does appear to be a potential transfer option for United, a recent video clip tweeted by German journalist Florian Plettenberg supposedly showed Kalajdzic’s agent meeting with Bayern’s officials at their training base.

Which other strikers have been linked?

With 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo United’s main striker at present, talk of the Red Devils signing a new centre-forward has been widespread.

Edinson Cavani is expected to leave this summer, Anthony Martial’s future is also in doubt, while Mason Greenwood remains suspended by the club, so there’s a real need to recruit in the forward areas this summer.

Harry Kane is one player that has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, although that seems unlikely given United won’t play in the Champions League next season.

Benfica’s Darwin Nunez and Victor Osimhen of Napoli are also reported targets for Ten Hag in the upcoming window.