Manchester United

Manchester United's transfer plans following Erik ten Hag appointment

Ten Hag was confirmed as United's next manager on Thursday
Ten Hag was confirmed as United's next manager on Thursday / BSR Agency/GettyImages
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Manchester United and Erik ten Hag accept that they will not be able to address all issues within the existing first team squad in the upcoming transfer window - but they are ready to pursue targets that have been identified following his appointment as manager.

United confirmed the forthcoming arrival of Ten Hag, currently with Ajax, on Thursday, after agreeing a three-year contract with an option for a fourth with the 52-year-old and a compensation package with the Dutch champions.

Key to the agreement being struck was Ten Hag's say in future recruitment plans. The incoming manager will play a central role in which players are brought in and which ones depart - and 90min understands he has already delivered his verdict on those identified by club scouts as potential arrivals since the turn of the year.

United held an interview process led by football director John Murtough in recent weeks, with Murtough and his staff open to all candidates - not just Ten Hag - about their thoughts on future transfers and what work had already gone into them.

Ten Hag's opinions have been asked for and taken into account as United plan ahead, with next season set to start early due to the winter World Cup.


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Which positions will be addressed?

90min understands that all areas of the squad, United and Ten Hag feel, require improvement. And while it'll take longer than the weeks of summer 2022 to fix everything, the most important areas will be targeted first.

Central midfield has long been an area United fans feel is short of quality, and the club recognise that and aim to address it. Attack will also be prioritised, with a wide forward and central striking target on the agenda, while some staff also see the need to strengthen in central defence.

There are also likely to be changes in goal, with a number of players in the United first team currently pushing for exits.

90min explores them below, department by department, in further detail.


Goalkeepers

Lee Grant is set to leave the club on a free transfer, while Dean Henderson - who Ten Hag tried to sign at Ajax earlier this year - is seeking first team football after playing second fiddle to David de Gea for the duration of the season.

It's understood that Ten Hag is a big fan of De Gea, who has been United's best player this season, and is likely to be trusted to continue as number one. Some have voiced concerns over his distribution, but Ten Hag is ready to work with him and the club are ready to give the player a new contract.

Henderson could be sold or sent on loan with a number of interested parties - Newcastle United are favourites as it stands with Rangers, Everton and West Ham monitoring his situation - and would need replacing as back up goalkeeper.

90min reported in February of the club's interest in academy graduate Sam Johnstone, currently at West Brom but out of contract in the summer, and that remains the case. West Ham and Tottenham are also in the running to sign the 29-year-old on a free transfer.


Listen now to 90min's brand new podcast, Talking Transfers, with Scott Saunders & Graeme Bailey. Toby Cudworth joins the show this week to discuss contract situations at West Ham, while there are updates on Man City's pursuit of Erling Haaland and Chelsea's plans for Romelu Lukaku, while the crew react to Erik ten Hag's appointment.


Defence

United would like to improve their options in defence, though have a number of options they also need to move off the books who are still in contract.

Villarreal's Pau Torres is seen as an ideal signing at left centre back - a player they have coveted for a long time with 90min reporting of their fresh interest on 1 April - while Jurrien Timber, a player Ten Hag works with at Ajax, has also been linked. However, United's issue in defence will be ridding themselves of what many would consider deadwood.

Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are available for other clubs, while it's understood Victor Lindelof would be allowed to leave for the right offer. The hope is that at least one of the three will depart to allow them to bring in a new face.

At full back, the futures of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles are all far from certain, though Luke Shaw is in line for a new deal with a year left on his existing contract.


Midfield

England star Declan Rice is at the top of United's list in central midfield. However, dedicating more than £100m to one player will likely prove an issue - so cheaper targets are also in consideration.

Wolves star Ruben Neves, who United were interested in last summer, remains firmly in their sights, though academy graduate James Garner could be given a chance around the first team as his loan deal with Nottingham Forest concludes in the coming weeks.

Nemanja Matic has already announced he will leave at the end of the season, while Juan Mata and Paul Pogba - though not yet officially communicated - are also expected to follow as their contracts expire too. A big chunk of United's transfer plans will be dictated by those players that leave the club and central midfield could be considered light given the players on their way out.

Further forward, Jesse Lingard is also set to leave on a free transfer.


Attack

Edinson Cavani is a sixth player out of contract and set to depart at the end of June, while uncertainty remains at Old Trafford over Cristiano Ronaldo's future. Many within the club expect the 37-year-old to depart with Champions League football unlikely and Ten Hag's style not quite a hand-in-glove fit for the Portuguese legend's style or energy levels at this stage.

Anthony Martial, on loan with Sevilla currently, asked to leave the club in January and still faces an uncertain future - he could be sold - though United and Ten Hag would like to persist with the out of sorts Marcus Rashford, who has found playing time hard to come by under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

Centre forward has proven a problem area for United this season and they are looking to address the position, with Darwin Nunez at Benfica a player who has been recommended to them by Cavani. The club have been watching the Uruguayan closely in recent weeks and have been impressed, with the player likely to move this summer regardless.

At wide forward, Ten Hag knows and likes Antony from his current set up at Ajax, as 90min revealed earlier this year, though interest in him is very strong from elsewhere. His links with his current boss however could give United an edge in their pursuit.


Whatever happens, significant turnover is expected at United this summer and is set to be sparked following the confirmation of Ten Hag as manager.

A source close to United told 90min that there's an acceptance within the club that things have needed to change, stating: "United accept their recruitment has been way off in recent years. They have good negotiators, scouts and coaches - but it has not delivered on the transfer front.

"It was always the intention of the club that the new manager can have a big impact going forward this summer."

Ten Hag will arrive at United following the conclusion of the Eredivisie season with Ajax - the club hold a four-point lead with five games remaining, with Ten Hag now hoping the clarification of his next role can help settle on-pitch matters with Ajax as they attempt to win the title.

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