New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has outlined the five signings he believes will transform the club this summer.
The Dutch manager has identified Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, Brentford playmaker Christian Eriksen and Ajax pair Jurrien Timber and Antony, as well as a back-up goalkeeper, according to the Manchester Evening News.
And though that may read like an expensive shopping list, United Chief Executive Richard Arnold has said ‘money is not a consideration’ in Manchester United’s pursuit of de Jong as he took aim at Ed Woodward’s handling of transfers in a sensational exchange with a group of United supporters in a Cheshire pub.
Erik ten Hag has supposedly identified the five signings he wants Manchester United to make
Frenkie de Jong is a priority for ten Hag
Having brought in club legend Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho last summer, United had a promising start to the season before crumbling away to their worst finish in Premier League history with 58 points.
In an honest appraisal of United’s recent history, Arnold on Saturday told the group of supporters: ‘We spent a billion pounds on players, more than anyone in Europe.
‘I’m not thrilled where we are. It doesn’t sit easy with me and I worry how we get this sorted for the future. What’s happened is we have f***ing burned through cash.
‘You can’t go to our training ground and say ‘show me where the £1billion is’ because we haven’t spent money well historically.
‘Last year was a f***ing nightmare. There was hate at every game. We’ve blown through an enormous amount of money.’
United’s interest in de Jong has been well documented as the two clubs have been at loggerheads over a fee for the 25-year-old Dutchman for some time now.
On De Jong, who Barcelona value at £69million, Arnold told fans: ‘Money is not a consideration in who we want.
‘It’s that the manager wants him, that they’ve actually done the work on looking if he’s a great player.
‘Is it £100 million or £200million? I don’t know. Get who you f***ing want.
‘Do you want me buying the players? Doesn’t that ring a bell?’
According to the Twitter of one of the fans who spoke to Arnold, the United chief also said: ‘United officials are in Barcelona getting the deal done for De Jong.
New manager Erik ten Hag has identified ex-Ajax man De Jong as his No 1 summer target
Christian Eriksen impressed for Brentford
‘As a club we’re doing everything possible to get the deal done, I’ve been up for days trying to get it done. The money is there but there’s things standing in our way which I can’t say.’
The Netherlands international could join several Ajax players, former and current, at Old Trafford if ten Hag gets his way.
Eriksen is another midfield target as ten Hag seeks to completely remodel his midfield following the departures of Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and of course Paul Pogba.
Another who trained under the possession-based football principles of Ajax’s academy, the 30-year-old could provide ten Hag with a creative option from a deeper position than that regularly taken up by Bruno Fernandes.
The Danish midfielder will likely be a less expensive option than the other names on ten Hag’s list as his six-month deal at Brentford runs out this summer, and he is widely expected to depart the west London club.
Antony (left) played a massive factor in Ajax’s title winning campaign, while Jurrien Timber (centre), like the Brazilian, has also been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer
Having coached both Antony and Timber during his time at Ajax, ten Hag is thought to be a strong negotiating chip for the club with relations between Manchester United and Ajax are said to be strong.
Edwin van der Sar, a legendary figure at both clubs and senior executive with the Dutch club, is believed to be a key part of those strong relations, and could prove decisive as United plan to prise out some of their more talented young stars.
The Red Devils have been linked with a £51million move for the Brazilian winger, although they now reportedly face pressure from Tottenham with Antonio Conte keen to add the 22-year-old to his growing list of summer arrivals.
Timber’s move to United may already be off, whilst Antony has caught Antonio Conte’s eye
Antony enjoyed a successful season with the Eredivisie title winners, scoring eight goals and providing four assists in ten Hag’s final season at the club, resulting in interest from many of Europe’s top clubs.
Reports in The Sun claimed Timber was close to agreeing a £30m transfer deal with the Red Devils to reunite with the manager who put a lot of faith into him at a young age.
However, the move looks to have already hit stumbling blocks along the way, after former United boss Louis van Gaal suggested his career with the national team could be hampered by a move to Old Trafford.
Jurrien Timber’s £30m move to Manchester United ‘is now off after words from Louis van Gaal’
Timber himself also cast doubts over the move after Holland’s recent 3-2 win over Wales. He said: ‘You’re always flattered when teams show interest in you… but I am at the biggest club in the world at the moment and I feel fine there, so no news.’
Dean Henderson’s torrid time at United could be brought to a close soon, as ten Hag also revealed he would be looking to sign a new back-up goalkeeper, which could suggest the English keeper is on his way out.
Watford’s Daniel Bachmann and Newcastle’s Karl Darlow have been discussed as potential replacements, and could be part of ten Hag’s much-anticipated overhaul this summer.
And although United are behind the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and even Tottenham and Arsenal in terms of recruitment this summer, it looks like the Old Trafford club are set for a very busy window with players moving in both directions.
Karl Darlow and Daniel Bachmann are under consideration to replace Dean Henderson