Incoming manager Erik Ten Hag has his work cut out at Manchester United as he needs to find suitable players for three positions immediately after taking over the reins. The Red Devils currently sit sixth in the Premier League table and have played two games more than all the teams above them.
With Champions League football all but ruled out for next season, Ten Hag will look to revitalise the league and domestic cup challenge for Manchester United. Here are three positions where the Dutch coach needs reinforcements urgently:
Ralf Rangnick has had only Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as right-back options in the defence. Wan-Bissaka has fallen woefully short of expectations since his signing in 2019. The former Crystal Palace man has not been effective with his end product in the final third. While he remains defensively astute, Wan-Bissaka’s technical ability on the ball has come under severe scrutiny. United could allow the Englishman to leave, with Crystal Palace and AS Roma rumoured to be interested parties.
Dalot’s performances have been a tad more encouraging. The Portuguese defender has looked comfortable defensively and in driving possession forward. While his crossing still needs work, the 23-year-old could still be a useful back-up in Ten Hag’s system.
At Ajax, Ten Hag has used his full-backs in a more conservative role in build-up. In the final third, however, they are expected to provide width on the overlap. To be allowed the same luxury at Old Trafford, the Dutchman requires a right-back who is defensively strong, athletic, and influential in the final third. The following players could be considered by the United board:
After originally starting as a centre-back, the Frenchman was moved out wide by Julian Naglesmann. The 24-year-old RB Leipzig defender has functioned as a full-back, wing-back, and wide-midfielder too.
The 2021 Copa America winner has 6 goals and 4 assists this season in Serie A (stats via Transfermarkt). Nahuel Molina is a more attacking player and has largely functioned in a 3-5-2 formation at Udinese. The 24-year-old has also been linked to Arsenal.
With Nemanja Matic leaving, United will have a gaping hole in the holding midfield position. Both Fred and Scott McTominay are effective in a double pivot, but cannot play as a lone 6. The Red Devils have been linked to a host of players including Declan Rice, Ruben Neves, and Amadou Haidara among others.
Additionally, the Red Devils could also try and sign:
The Monaco midfielder could be one of the most sought-after players in this transfer window. With Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool also being interested, the Red Devils can expect heavy competition to secure the 22-year-old’s signature. Tchouameni has performed well in a single pivot as well as double pivot this season.
Edinson Cavani is another player confirmed to be leaving Old Trafford at the end of this season. This means Cristiano Ronaldo is the only option for Ten Hag in a central role. With Ronaldo turning 38 next year, Manchester United have to prepare for life without their talisman. The Red Devils could consider signing:
The Uruguayan gained a lot of attention for his impressive displays against Liverpool in the Champions League. Nunez is a no-nonsense centre-forward; physically imposing and deadly in the box. However, his build-up play, defensive contribution, and ability on the ball still require polishing. The 22-year-old has 34 goals and 4 assists this season (stats via transfermarkt). Reports suggest that United have even made a bid of around £67 million to Benfica.
The Argentine has 18 goals and 3 assists this season (stats via Transfermarkt). Martinez has been impressive for Inter Milan for over 3 seasons now. The 24-year-old is effective in tight spaces and smart around the box. He also has an impressive work rate that will complement Ten Hag’s high-pressing style well. With Arsenal also interested, the Argentine is expected to cost between £60m-£70m.
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What position should be the foremost priority for Ten Hag and who else can Manchester United target? Let us know in the comments.
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