Manchester United

Man United identify Matthijs de Ligt alternative as Erik ten Hag turns to Plan B

Manchester United have identified an alternative target to Matthijs de Ligt as Erik ten Hag prepares to miss out on the Juventus star.

Ten Hag is keen to boost his options in defence, with United having conceded the most goals in the top eight of the Premier League.

The Dutchman is particularly desperate to bring in a new centre-back, having seen Harry Maguire struggle this term, with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones also set to leave Old Trafford.

His top target was understood to be De Ligt, who enjoyed a successful working relationship under his management at Ajax. The Netherlands international has endured a mixed spell at Juventus since completing a £64million move to Turin in 2019.

With two years remaining on his contract at the Allianz Stadium, United emerged as interested suitors. But they have now been hit by a serious blow to their ambitions of signing the 22-year-old.

According to Tuttomercato, Juventus have ‘no intention’ of letting De Ligt leave this summer. His successful campaign under Massimiliano Allegri this season has ‘dispelled’ any questions over his future.

So much so, that it is stated the Serie A giants are ready to offer him a new contract. De Ligt is now said to be ‘evaluating’ the offer, with Juventus keen to tie down his future for the long-term.

Having been hit by that serious blow to his transfer plans, Ten Hag is now turning his attention to alternative options. According to transfer insider Fabrice Hawkins, one of the players they are ‘tracking’ is Eintracht Frankfurt star Evan Ndicka.

Ndicka is described as being ‘very courted’ having helped Frankfurt to win the Europa League this season. He has made 44 appearances in all competitions and started as the Eagles defeated Rangers in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

That booked their place in the Champions League for next season, with Ndicka not ‘ruling out’ featuring in that competition for the Bundesliga side. But there have been some suggestions that Frankfurt could attempt to cash in on the Frenchman this summer.

He will enter the final year of his contract this summer and with the likes of United and Tottenham circling, the upcoming window is the perfect chance for Frankfurt to sell. That will be welcome news for Ten Hag, who can ill-afford to miss out on another of his top targets.

United are believed to have sent scouts to take in Ndicka’s performance against Rangers in the Europa League final. But they may not have been impressed with his display, given former AC Milan star Mark Hateley pinpointed him as a weak point for Frankfurt.

“The possession hasn’t ended up in much, but at least you’re not chasing the ball in this heat. You’re in control, moving it from side to side. I think if Rangers get the ball in and around Ndicka’s feet, he’s all over the place. He doesn’t want the ball,” Hateley said in commentary for BBC Sport.

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