Erik Ten Hag’s persuasive power eventually forced the Manchester United board to part with over £220 million in this summer’s transfer window as phase one of the Dutchman’s rebuild got underway.
Although he wasn’t granted his primary wish in the shape of Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, Ten Hag was allowed to bring in players he trusts like Lisandro Martinez, Antony, both of whom were well-versed with Ten Hag’s methods.
Christian Eriksen also trained with Ten Hag’s Ajax while Tyrell Malacia came from the Eredivisie, which the Dutch manager knows well. Casemiro’s resume speaks for itself and the business done looks good on paper.
The fees United ended up paying meant they overshot their transfer budget by a huge margin and had they acted with due diligence, this would not have been the case.
The club has no excuse to not follow Ten Hag’s transfer plan next summer. The hope is Ten Hag’s methods will bear fruit this season and he will no doubt be earmarking names that suit his needs as we speak.
With the notoriously difficult winter window expected to be bypassed by the club, any major incomings will be lined up for summer 2023. Here, we look at the areas and players Ten Hag should be focussing his attention on.
Goalkeeper – Huge question marks hang over David de Gea’s ability to carry out the duties Ten Hag expects from his goalkeeper.
Coupled with his bumper contract expiring next summer and United should be ideally lining up an adequate replacement. The club does have the option to extend the Spaniard’s contract by a year, taking him to 2024.
Dean Henderson is still on the books at United and his attributes do align more with Ten Hag than De Gea.
However, after his very public outburst against his parent club, it remains to be seen whether the bridges are burnt beyond repair. If a resolution were to be found, Henderson could end up saving the club significant money.
If United were to look elsewhere, they could do worse than looking at Wolves’ Jose Sa. The Portuguese stopper enjoyed a fine debut season in the Premier League and at 29-years-old, he is entering his prime years as a goalkeeper.
Right Back – Failure to move Aaron Wan-Bissaka on in the summer won’t deter the club from finding a way out for him in the coming months. Diogo Dalot is currently performing well but an upgrade or cover will be required next summer.
Internal options will include the promising Ethan Laird, currently on loan at QPR. He is highly thought of at the club and could provide cover for Dalot when needed.
If United were to spend, rumours that Achraf Hakimi might be looking to leave PSG would surely lead to concrete interest, if true. The Morrocan right back is rated as one of the best in the world and would fit Ten Hag’s philosophy.
Midfield – Having chased Frenkie de Jong all summer, Casimero ended up arriving at Old Trafford. The Brazilian has five Champions League winners medals and a wealth of experience but his age means it is not the best long-term option.
The signing of Casimero means United will have three 30 plus midfielders in the engine room next summer.
De Jong would probably still be top of Ten Hag’s list. If not, Jude Bellingham is widely expected to leave Dortmund next year and his age, temperament and ability would represent a no-brainer in terms of an addition.
Centre Forward – The ongoing Cristiano Ronaldo saga will surely end next summer, culminating in the club legend leaving Old Trafford for the second time. Whether he features in Ten Hag’s first team or not this year, he will leave a hole with United needing a centre-forward.
Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix would be the Hollywood signing but would cost a bomb and comes with no guarantees.
Closer to home, Ivan Toney is gaining rave reviews for his performances at Brentford and would provide a more economic option.
Outgoings will also be key to supplementing the summer spree. Aaron Wan Bissaka and Harry Maguire could bring in a fee. As could David de Gea, should the club choose to sell. Offloading Cristiano Ronaldo will also shrink the wage bill, along with the aforementioned high earners.
Qualification for next season’s Champions League will also affect the purse strings. Ten Hag will be desperate to continue building a side in his image and will be throwing all his efforts into ensuring United are competing at Europe’s top competition next season.