Erik ten Hag is still realising the magnitude of the job he took on as new Manchester United manager. He has steadied the ship but there is still major rebuilding to be done.
The Dutch manager must have thought his side are finally starting to believe in the process and adapting to his methods after seeing United embark on a nine-game unbeaten run.
However, the Red Devils succumbed to a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa with the players putting in one of their most lacklustre displays this season.
United’s midfielder search
The former Ajax coach was guilty of making a few questionable selection calls himself during that game.
The loss once again highlighted the need to recruit well in January and the Glazers should definitely loosen their purse strings instead of focussing on next summer.
The priority positions include bringing in a top goal-scorer, a right-back and a creative midfielder. One player who will definitely not be arriving is former target Adrien Rabiot.
Adrien Rabiot went all of last season without scoring a goal.
He now has five goals in 14 matches this season ⚽ pic.twitter.com/da1DyYvRMj
— EmperorA. (@EmperorAFC) November 7, 2022
The Juventus midfielder was close to securing a move to United in the summer but wage demands from the player’s mother meant the deal fell through and instead the Reds landed Casemiro.
United definitely got a good deal in the end but the need to recruit a midfielder remains considering the age of both the Brazilian and Christian Eriksen.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has revealed in his exclusive Daily Briefing for CaughtOffside’s Substack that Rabiot’s situation has changed at the Turin club and a transfer will no longer be entertained.
“There have been fresh transfer rumours about Adrien Rabiot, but I’m absolutely not sure that he will leave Juventus in January.
“He’s doing great and he’s key player for Allegri this season, so I see him staying at least until the end of the season – then his contract will be discussed as the current one expires in June 2023.”
United unlikely to go back for Rabiot
The Old Lady are expected to begin negotiations over a new contract soon as they look to tie down the Frenchman to a long-term deal considering his importance to Allegri’s system.
However, in case a deal cannot be agreed, a lot of suitors will be waiting to snap him up according to Romano. However, United are not expected to return with an offer.
“Manchester United held talks over signing Rabiot in the summer, but there were no other clubs in the race. In the end, his salary demands meant United pulled out of the move.
“For now it is quiet, but I’m sure he’ll have a lot of clubs interested if he does end up being a free agent in the summer.”
United should instead focus on bringing in an elite ball carrier in the mould of Jude Bellingham or Frenkie de Jong so that Ten Hag can carry forward his project in the way he had envisaged.