After officially being unveiled as Manchester United’s new manager last week, Erik ten Hag is now busy putting plans in place for the upcoming summer transfer window.
The window opens on June 10 and is poised to signal the beginning of the busiest summer United have experienced in recent years. The club is poised to say farewell to a handful of big-name stars, such as Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani, meaning new recruits will be drafted in to fill those gaps and add fresh blood to the Ten Hag revolution.
Therefore, with the opening of the window now less than a fortnight away, speculation is already beginning to gather significant pace about who United could add to their ranks this summer. Several positions need strengthening, meaning United’s club photographer could be snapping pictures of several new additions at Carrington over the coming weeks.
Among those being linked with moves to Old Trafford include Ajax defender Jurrien Timber, Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona and Benfica star Darwin Nunez. All four of those players would significantly improve areas of the team that need strengthening, not least De Jong in midfield.
With that said, MEN Sport has taken a close look at how Ten Hag could set United up next term if he was able to lure the four aforementioned names to Old Trafford. The Dutchman is renowned for playing with a recognisable 4-3-3 system and he could well continue that trend in England.
Goalkeeper – David de Gea
Although it remains to be seen what Ten Hag’s plans are for the goalkeeping department, David De Gea, following an excellent 2021/22 campaign between the sticks, deserves to be in with a chance of retaining his place. He produced countless good performances this season, with his saves alone securing the Reds some valuable points.
Dean Henderson appears set to leave the club and join Newcastle United, meaning it is possible that De Gea will continue as No.1 next season. Although nothing can be ruled out, it is hard to see him being demoted to No.2, with a new first choice shot-stopper coming in over his head.
The Spaniard, who will have to improve areas of his game, not least his distribution, does deserve to keep his place and become a part of the Ten Hag revolution. It would be harsh for him to be axed.
Defence – Jurrien Timber, Pau Torres, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw.
United need fresh blood at the back this summer, particularly at right-back and centre-back. At this moment in time, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot are the club’s two senior right-back options and it is understood that the former does not figure in Ten Hag’s plans, meaning the club will need to replace him.
Ajax ace Timber has been touted as a solution to the Reds’ right-back woes, with the youngster having shone brightly under Ten Hag in the Netherlands this season. Although he operated more often as a centre-back, he is equally capable of playing on the right-side the defence, with his pace and athleticism, plus his capability to carry the ball, just some of his best qualities, meaning he has the potential to make it as a seasoned full-back.
Therefore, if United were to sign Timber and deploy him primarily as a right-back, it could pave the way for Torres to come in from Villarreal at centre-back. United want to add a central-defender to their ranks this summer and the Spaniard is a player that the club have monitored for a lengthy period of time.
It is understood that Ten Hag has been consulted on the prospect of him being brought to Old Trafford, meaning United are serious about their interest in him. He would be a suitable partner for Raphael Varane in the heart of the defence, but it would mean the axe for current club captain Harry Maguire. Luke Shaw, meanwhile, should continue at left-back.
Midfield – Fred, Frenkie de Jong, Bruno Fernandes
If one area of the team is to take priority above any other this summer, it has to be the midfield. United’s supporters are desperate to see changes made to that area of the team and with good reason.
They are crying out for a defensive-minded midfielder, but it remains to be seen who they will lure to Old Trafford to solve that particular issue. They are also need of a box-to-box midfielder who can dominate proceedings with the ball at his feet.
In De Jong, they have found one. Ten Hag worked with the Netherlands international at Ajax and is keen to be reunited with him, but Barcelona’s financial demands will decide if a reunion in M16 is possible.
But if he was to be added to the squad, it would be a huge statement of intent from United. Although a mystery surrounds the defensive-midfield berth, he would join Fred and Bruno Fernandes in a three-man system for now.
Attack – Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Darwin Nunez
With Cavani leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of next month, United will need to invest in a replacement striker to provide support and competition for Cristiano Ronaldo. Benfica ace Nunez has already been highlighted by no shortage of supporters as a player they’d like to see brought to the club, but he, like De Jong, will cost a pretty penny.
He enjoyed a stellar campaign with Benfica this season, scoring 34 goals in 41 appearances, meaning his stock is on the rise. Reports claim that the Portuguese giants value him at more than £60million, meaning United will have to think carefully if they plan on continuing with Ronaldo as their first choice striker.
However, as per transfermarkt, Nunez played five times as a left-winger this season, scoring ten goals in the process from that position, suggesting that he can be deployed out wide if needed to. But with Ronaldo turning 38 in less than a year’s time, Nunez’s chance to move into the middle would soon arrive, you would think. He may have to be patient, but at just 22-years-old now could be the best time to sign him, as his stock is only increasing.