Erik ten Hag’s reign as Manchester United manager has so far been a topsy-turvy ride. The Dutchman has no doubt steadied the ship but there are still problems galore to fix.
After a run of nine games unbeaten, last Sunday’s Aston Villa defeat was a reminder of how the squad still needs to be rebuilt as there are so many chinks in the United armour.
Despite bringing in as many as six new recruits, there is a lot of scope for improvement. A lot has been spoken about the need to buy an elite striker as well as recruit a new right-back and a creative midfielder.
Fred under the scanner
Then there is the question of player contracts and cutting loose deadwood in the squad. One of the players whose contracts is expiring next summer is Fred.
The Brazilian has been a bit-part player so far this campaign. He was terrible to begin with but did make an impact against Tottenham Hotspur.
But he is yet to become a regular and with the kind of football Ten Hag wants and the players United are targetting next summer, the Brazil international certainly does not seem to be a permanent fixture of the first XI.
United do have the option of triggering a one-year extension in Fred’s contract to protect his value but Ten Hag has made it clear he wants players to earn their contract renewals.
Transfer expert Rudy Galetti has mentioned that renewing Fred’s contract is not that straight-forward and that there is a high-chance that he might leave on a free next summer.
“The renewal of the contract is more and more complicated and he can say goodbye at the end of the season as a free agent,” Galetti tweeted.
📌 for the 🏴 centre-back, some 🇪🇺 clubs have asked for info;
📌 for the 🇧🇷 midfielder, the renewal of the contract is more and more complicated and he can say goodbye at the end of the season as a free agent. 🐓⚽️ #Transfers pic.twitter.com/o8BAUQYA5y
— Rudy Galetti (@RudyGaletti) November 8, 2022
The 29-year-old had become the fourth-most expensive signing back in 2018 when he signed from Shakhtar Donetsk for an initial €50million but it is safe to say that he has not lived up to his enormous price tag.
He is currently valued at €20million according to Transfermarkt.
Another player who has fallen in the pecking order is club captain Harry Maguire. He was an automatic starter for former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But on the back of a terrible last season and a dismal beginning this term, Maguire has dropped to fourth choice currently.
Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are effectively first-choice while Victor Lindelof seems to be ahead of the England man.
On top of this, the Dutch manager does not see Maguire as a left centre-back, a position he has occupied since he started playing club football.
The former Leicester man has been mostly played on the right side of defence and that is likely to continue.
Galetti has now mentioned that there are European clubs keeping a tab on Maguire’s situation. “For the English centre-back, some European clubs have asked for info,” was his tweet.
Given that the journalist is form Italy, the interest could be from Serie A. Many a English player has revived their career in Italy and former United defender Chris Smalling is the best example.
Smalling was considered too erratic for English football and his passing range was not good enough but he has since rebuilt his reputation in Rome.
It makes sense for clubs to be interested in Maguire who is technically quite good and has a good range of passing. He was bought for €80million but is currently valued at only €30million.
Ten Hag will take the final call but his history shows that he is not afraid to take big calls. Both players need to buck up or risk being shipped out.
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