Iran may have been turned around by England in Qatar’s World Cup Group B opener, but Mehdi Taremi made a good case for being a smart piece of business for Manchester United in January.
For more than an hour, the striker saw next to nothing of the ball as a brilliant display from the Three Lions ushered Gareth Southgate’s side into Qatar.
In fact, by the time the 65th minute arrived, Iran had only seen 22% of the possession.
But Taremi needed just one shot on target when he seized the opportunity to beat the English defense with a blind run before smashing an unsaveable finish into the roof of the net.
And that was no surprise to the Iranian, who has been in fantastic form with his club FC Porto.
He has been at the forefront of Liga Portugal’s sensational Champions League campaign this season, scoring five goals and providing two assists in five outings.
At 187cm, Taremi cuts the figure of a true number nine, capable with his back to goal and lethal in the penalty area. Those who remember his stunning bicycle kick against Chelsea in the 2021 Champions League quarter-finals can attest to the fact that this man can score almost any type of goal.
But he combines it with an astute creative mind. In the Champions League group stage he made 13 key passes, including a remarkable five away from favorites Atlético Madrid. (Whoscored)
His ability to juggle his responsibilities as a goalscorer and provider can also be seen in Porto’s league campaign. He currently has six goals and five assists in 13 games, basically a goal in every game.
In that respect, Taremi is a lot like a budget Harry Kane, and with United having long been admirers of the Tottenham Hotspur man, interest from the Red Devils could make a lot of sense.
At 30, Taremi has had a long road to the top, only moving to Europe in 2019 when he signed for Rio Ave in Portugal.
It only took Porto a year to sign him and they have certainly reaped the rewards, with the number nine scoring 62 goals and providing 43 assists in 115 games for the Dragons.
With Cristiano Ronaldo out and United short of options in attack, Taremi is a player who would likely make an immediate impact on Erik ten Hag’s squad. The Red Devils don’t have a player of his profile and would benefit from a goalscorer who thrives by putting others on the line.
But why would Porto let go of such a crucial player for their team, especially mid-season?
Well, as mentioned, the Iranian striker is 30 years old and Porto are known to look for profit whenever they can get it. And at this age Taremi is unlikely to get another chance to play in the Premier League, which could convince him to swap Porto’s Champions League campaign for a chance to lead the line at the Theater of Dreams.
Come January, Taremi only has 18 months left on his contract. This will certainly have an impact on the kind of fee Porto can demand and it’s hard to see him doing much more than €20m.
That figure will still see Porto quadruple their money, having signed the striker for less than €5 million just two-and-a-half years ago. Financially, the deal could make sense for both clubs.
As for Taremi, the striker has told his representatives at Porto that he is considering a change of scenery at the start of the year.
According to The Sun, Arsenal are in the picture, but given that he would offer a role as an understudy to Gabriel Jesus, they may not present an ideal option for a striker at the top of his game.
Manchester United could offer the chance to exploit a gap in their squad. Anthony Martial will likely be the only striker available for Ten Hag in January, and with the Frenchman perennially injured, Taremi will no doubt fancy his chances of becoming a household name in the Premier League in a matter of weeks.
He certainly has the confidence, as he showed with his crisp penalty to provide consolation for the Iranian fans against England. Two goals today leaves Taremi with 13 goals and 7 assists in 19 games this season.
This could be exactly the signing Manchester United need to get their attack clicking.