The new Old Trafford manager wants five new signings in total this summer, but strengthening the midfield is his top priority.
Erik ten Hag has made it clear to Manchester United that they need Frenkie de Jong and Christian Eriksen this summer, with both players seen as essential to rebuilding the midfield at Old Trafford. Ten Hag wants his team to be made up of more technical players than in recent years, with ball possession being key to the system he intends to put in place at the club.
De Jong the darling of Ten Hag
That’s why Manchester United are set to step up their quest to land Frenkie De Jong with Barcelona’s assessment of the midfielder being the main stumbling block so far. The Red Devils thought an offer in the region of €62m would be enough to convince the Catalans to sell but they were quoted figures of nearly €105m for the Dutchman to be released.
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GOAL learned, however, that a compromise between €78m and €90m with bonuses could close the deal. With Manchester United claiming they will turn to other targets if they fail to strike a deal, GOAL can confirm that their interest in free agent Eriksen is in addition to De Jong, rather than as an alternative. Ten Hag plans to completely transform United’s style of play, focusing on ball possession, rather than the counter-attacking football practiced under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho.
He feels he needs better ball handlers than he currently has, and has instructed director of football John Murtough to provide more technical midfielders than those favored by his predecessors. The departures of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard also left him with many voids to fill during his first transfer window at the club. Although he is happy to work with a smaller squad than in recent years, it is recognized that Manchester United will need to be very active this summer.
Five recruits expected
De Jong is Manchester United’s main target as Ten Hag believes the 25-year-old has different skills to his current side. The Dutch international will be used to collect the ball from deep positions and carry it forward, either with his feet or with his impressive range of passes. United haven’t had that type of midfielder since Michael Carrick’s retirement, with Matic being more of a catcher and Fred’s use of the ball being erratic. Eriksen is also very comfortable collecting the ball in tight spaces to relieve pressure and retain possession.
The former Tottenham playmaker is also more attacking and could play as one of two number 10s alongside Bruno Fernandes, as an orthodox number 10 or in a deeper role, allowing United to be more versatile in terms of of trainings. Erik Ten Hag wants to sign five new players this summer, with midfield as a priority.
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He also needs at least one striker – and has already seen his main target, Darwin Nunez, join rivals Liverpool. Inter’s Denzel Dumfries is among the right-backs being considered but Ten Hag’s main defensive target, Jurrien Timber, has reportedly decided to stay at Ajax. Villarreal’s Pau Torres is therefore another option being considered as a centre-back.
Ten Hag also admires Ajax winger Antony, as well as RB Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku. Manchester United are also hoping to sign Derby County winger Malcolm Ebiowei, who is out of contract with the Rams and is not expected to stay after their relegation to League One. Ebiowei is seen as a star in the making, and Manchester United want to preempt a long list of potential suitors for his signature.