A new era dawns on Old Trafford as the long-awaited news that Erik ten Hag will be the club’s next manager has been made official. Ten Hag, who will take over from Ralf Rangnick, suggests that he will not travel on Ajax’s post-season trip and says he will start working for Manchester United this week. He will have plenty of work to do after another underwhelming campaign that sees Man United finish trophyless for the fifth year and, bar a minor miracle, fail to qualify for the Champions League again.
The move for Ten Hag has clearly been in the works since the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjær, hence the decision to not hastily appoint a new long-term manager in the Norwegian’s absence. You only need to look at the strength of the current Ajax team, who look on course for another Eredivisie title, to see that the move ticks all the right boxes.
The Dutchman has developed some genuinely world-class talent in his five years in Amsterdam, but to make United serious contenders in the online betting odds for the title, his squad needs serious work.
It seems strange that after investing so heavily in marquee signings like Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, United have to once again dip into the transfer market to resolve their situation. The reality is that this side simply isn’t good enough and for them to turn their poor form around, new faces have to make their way to Old Trafford. Here are a few names we think could seriously improve the squad under Ten Hag.
Pau Torres – Villarreal
The biggest problems in the United team come in their defence. Varane’s injury problems mean he is unreliable for a whole season and the pair of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf have proven on too many occasions to be a recipe for disaster.
Pau Torres has been immense for Villarreal this season and after beating United in the Europa League final last year, fans will be aware of the Spaniard’s ability. Alongside Varane and with international colleague David De Gea between the sticks, Ten Hag could build a solid foundation for his side to build on, with clean sheets the key ingredient for any form of success, although Torres certainly won’t come cheap.
Aurélien Tchouaméni – Monaco
One of the most sought-after midfielders this summer, Monaco’s Aurélien Tchouaméni looks to be the next big thing on the conveyor belt of French midfielders, and seems a like-for-like replacement for the physical attributes of Paul Pogba should he depart Old Trafford. Still only 22 years old, Tchouaméni has shown his versatility this season in Ligue 1, playing in front of the defence as a lone pivot as well as his more familiar box-to-box role. With Monaco struggling since their glory days under Leonardo Jardim, it’s likely they will sell their prized asset for the right money.
However, they face serious competition from the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool, clubs that offer the pull of Champions League football that Ten Hag simply can’t throughout his first season. It could mean United have to pay that bit extra to ensure Tchouaméni’s signature.
Darwin Núñez – Benfica
He’s certainly not the finished article, but Benfica striker Darwin Núñez has been on fire this season and the Uruguayan would be a massive upgrade on Marcus Rashford and outgoing compatriot Edison Cavani. The striker has outperformed Erling Haaland and Luis Suárez this campaign, and while Ronaldo would be the main striker in the team, he’ll be 38 at the end of next season and a year developing under Ten Hag could be exactly what he needs.
The South American has helped his side reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, knocking out the Dutchman’s Ajax en route and with 25 goals in as many Primeira Liga appearances, Núñez is surely due a move to a bigger club at the end of the season.