It is official. English football’s worst-kept secret is finally out. Erik ten Hag will become the new first-team manager of Manchester United. The current Ajax boss had been feverishly linked with the Red Devils over the past few months.
Needless to say, the supporters are extremely excited. Ten Hag has been one of the best coaches in Ajax’s history and learned his craft under Pep Guardiola.
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However, the task at hand is not simple at all. The Red Devils are going through one of the worst phases of living memory. They may not be able to qualify for the Champions League which will be a big blow for all. It has been touted that Ten Hag will have a war chest to spend and bring in players to improve the squad.
🔴 Man Utd's impending squad overhaul this summer will be one of the biggest jobs in the sport…
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) April 23, 2022
So, which player can be the first signing of the new era? FootTheBall picks the five players who can become that coveted debut signing.
The most exciting defensive prospect in Europe. Jurrien Timber has established himself as the mainstay of Ajax’s defence in the past two years. At just 20-years-old, he has the potential to become one of the best centre-backs of his generation. Given the fact that he has also been playing under Erik ten Hag, the Jurrien Timber transfer saga will rumble on.
Watched Jurrien Timber many times this season and again, he's looking solid in this game.
So calm under pressure, reads the game well, great positional awareness and knows when to progress with the ball.
If Erik ten Hag wants him then Man Utd should get him. pic.twitter.com/C6LNiDMo7A
— UtdFaithfuls (@UtdFaithfuls) April 17, 2022
Moreover, United need a centre back soon. Harry Maguire is looking like a shell of his former self. Eric Bailly is rarely used. Phil Jones is out injured almost all the time. Timber will be an immediate upgrade on them with his ball-playing skills and tactical awareness. Therefore, the Red Devils have to push on for this signing given Timber is contracted with Ajax till 2024.
However, it will not be an easy negotiation with Ajax in no rush to let him go and wanting a high price.
The need for a defensive midfielder has been clear for a long time. United have been getting by with Fred and Nemanja Matic. However, Fred has now been shifted up in the attacking areas while Matic is old and leaving at the end of the season. That is where Rice comes in.
David Moyes has insisted that his captain will not be sold for less than 150m but it might not be that simple.
Excl: Declan Rice has turned down third contract offer at West Ham. There’s still no agreement – Rice has always been committed, but he’s now open to a move this summer. 🏴 #WHUFC
West Ham insist he’s untouchable as David Moyes said – but Declan Rice won’t sign a new deal. pic.twitter.com/5TIjcO2zUS
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 22, 2022
Rice is under contract until 2024 and West Ham is not pressured to sell early. However, he has turned down the club’s newest contract extension three times. Similarly, United and Erik ten Hag are sure to have a blueprint of how they want to go about things.
Rice has developed brilliantly over the past few seasons and will be one of the first names on the team sheet. The backline needs protection and Rice can also add impetus on the offensive end.
Another player who Ten Hag knows extremely well. Antony has been one of the starring players in his position across Europe. His inswinging deliveries and pinpoint accuracy have become the talk of the town. Antony is speedy, wily, and able to see the pass before making it. That is why he is a very dangerous proposition for any opponent.
✅ Ajax’s Antony has has ‘caught the attention’ of Manchester United and Bayern Munich with the player waiting to define his future after this season. [@UOL, @Sport_Witness] #MUFC 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/qhnzFnXItI
— UtdPlug (@UtdPlug) April 22, 2022
United need a right-winger to complement Jadon Sancho on the left. Mason Greenwood is out of the picture. Anthony Elanga is still raw and needs to be developed further. That is why going after Antony is an exciting proposition.
He is young and having worked under Ten Hag, will be able to adapt quickly. Antony is one of the likeliest targets who could arrive. That is why United will go for him in the summer.
Could one mercurial Frenchman’s exit be balanced by the incoming of another? Aurelien Tchouamaeni has been one of the most exciting prospects in Europe. He has been linked with a whole host of top European clubs. Tchouamaeni’s expertise in advancing the ball, breaking up attacks, and incredible vision is unmatched.
🚨 Manchester United have held talks with Aurélien Tchouaméni’s entourage. The highly-rated midfielder has also had enquiries from Liverpool, Barcelona and Man City.
(Source: RMC Sport) pic.twitter.com/uiXFBboQ2n
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) January 29, 2022
Monaco have been excellent in developing young talent over the years. Tchouamaeni is exactly the type of player who can flourish under Ten Hag. The manager has a proven history of bringing out the best in upcoming players.
However, it will not be an easy transaction. Given how closely he is being followed, United will face competition. They will not want to overpay with other areas also a concern.
The attack is an area that Manchester United will have no choice but to add fresh face(s). Edinson Cavani is leaving. Cristiano Ronaldo will be turning 38. For all his greatness, going an entire season with only one out-and-out number 9 is impossible. Darwin Nunez could be the exact answer.
33 goals for Benfica makes him the top-scoring player in the Portuguese top-flight.
— FootTheBall FC (@FootTheBallFC) April 22, 2022
Nunez has been finding goals from all sorts of positions and his highlight reel will be legendary. West Ham tried to sign him in January but were unsuccessful with their late bid. There is no doubt that several clubs will be in the running to sign him in the summer.
United really need a proven goal scorer who can become the perfect foil for Ronaldo. Nunez has his best years and can become one of the stars of this team soon.