The ‘Man United transfers’ rumour mill has been working overtime since the news of Erik ten Hag’s appointment – and shows no signs of slowing down.
United’s new manager arrived in the UK today ahead of his impending tenure, and met with club staff.
This weekend, ten Hag will attend the Red Devils’ last game of the Premier League season against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Following the full-time whistle on Sunday, the Dutch revolution at Old Trafford will officially begin.
Ten Hag has started quickly in assembling his staff, too; Mitchell van der Gaag will follow him from Ajax to United, as per The Athletic. Additionally, former England manager Steve McClaren is in talks to join the backroom team.
However, the most striking problems facing United’s incoming boss are in the squad.
Manchester United are in dire need of a rebuild. The club will, at best, qualify for the Europa League in sixth place this season. Furthermore, United will end a fifth-straight season without a trophy; the first time they have done this in 40 years.
To compound the problems, several players will be leaving upon the expiry of their contracts. This, plus a disjointed and uninspired squad, necessitates new faces.
Speculation has linked Man United to a wide-ranging number of possible transfers. Most glaringly, United need reinforcements in midfield and defence – so who are they targeting?
Frenkie de Jong
Frenkie de Jong’s transfer saga will go one of two ways; either his situation will be resolved quickly, or rumours will linger for the entire summer. On May 11, renowned journalist Gerard Romero said that de Jong to Man United was at a “95% chance of completion”.
However, recent developments suggest differences in transfer fees. The Dutchman’s club, Barcelona, rate de Jong at £70 million. Unfortunately, United do not – and have told the Catalan side that they will not blow so much of their budget on him.
Erik ten Hag is very keen on the midfielder, who was one of the stars of the 2019 Ajax side that went to the Champions League semi-finals. With Paul Pogba set to leave Old Trafford, Man United are likely eyeing a world-class midfielder on their transfer list.
Alternatively, United may choose a youthful, budget-friendly option that the new boss can develop. Enzo Fernandez is a highly rated prospect who plays for River Plate in Argentina. The 21-year-old has a £17 million release clause, as per the Daily Mirror – a bargain, right?
Sadly, United would face stiff competition for the Argentine’s signature. Manchester City and Real Madrid are monitoring Fernandez – with the allure of Champions League football benefitting their cause, unlike Man United.
Continuing the Argentinian theme, Erik ten Hag reportedly wants to bring defender Lisandro Martinez with him to Old Trafford. Martinez was a regular at the heart of Ajax’s defence this season, which has conceded just 19 goals.
The Red Devils are also linked to his centre-back partner, Jurrien Timber. Despite this, Martinez is a more experienced option who may also be cheaper than his Ajax team-mate.
Another benefit is the Argentine’s versatility; Manchester Evening News report that Martinez can also play holding midfield if needed – boosting a problem position for United.
Brazilian winger Antony is another player that Erik ten Hag may steal in a raid of his former side. Fast becoming one of the best young talents in Europe, Antony’s development under Ten Hag in the Netherlands has impressed Europe’s top clubs.
Brazilian news outlet UOL say that the winger wants to play in the Premier League. Liverpool are set to battle Man United for Antony, who could cost around €60 million.
This season, Antony starred in the Eredivisie, netting 12 goals and providing 10 assists. At just 22-years-old, he has the potential to get even better under Ten Hag’s guidance.
Finally, moving away from Ajax, Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is touted as an option to improve United’s weak midfield.
The Italian side’s manager, Maurizio Sarri, excited United fans when speaking about Milinkovic-Savic’s situation. He said that if the Serbian leaves Lazio, he will only go to a team outside of Serie A.
In contrast, Lazio president Claudio Lotito explicitly said that the midfielder and club captain is not for sale, per Manchester Evening News. Despite this, Lazio may have to sell after missing out on Champions League football.
If Man United want to win the race for Milinkovic-Savic, they will have to beat PSG and Real Madrid to his signature. Per ESPN, the Red Devils will also need to fork out around €80 million.
This summer promises to be very busy for Erik ten Hag and his team. If Man United can pull off some solid transfers, they may be able to get the rebuild underway successfully.
Featured Image Credit: Getty