Erik ten Hag may still be the Ajax manager for now, but clearly has one eye on proceedings at Manchester United as reports state he has already identified eight players he will aim to keep and work closely with at Old Trafford.
The 52-year-old has insisted that his full focus remains in Amsterdam as he looks to secure his third Eredivisie title with the Dutch giants. United have already confirmed Ten Hag will succeed current interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who is expected to transition into a boardroom role from next season onwards.
It has been an incredibly underwhelming season in the red half of Manchester, with the Red Devils sacking club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from his post as boss in late-November before the temporary appointment of Rangnick. Plenty of players have fallen well below the lofty expectations placed on them in the summer.
Some big names and first-team regulars have failed to deliver on a consistent basis – in turn, leading some fans to call for those in question to be axed from the squad. Ten Hag, however, appears significantly more patient and is looking to revive some flatlining careers.
The Telegraph report that the incoming United boss has eight players he will look to use as the bedrock for his ideas and make them mainstays in his side.
Club captain Harry Maguire has faced plenty of criticism this term for the decline in his form and was recently taken out of the firing line by Rangnick for the trip to Arsenal. The defender watched on from the bench as Bruno Fernandes donned the armband instead while Victor Lindelof partnered Raphael Varane.
Instead of exiling him from the fold, Ten Hag is rumoured to be keen on finding out why Maguire’s form for his country is so much better than when with his club. Another central defender could be brought in to bring the best out of the skipper and deploy him in the middle of a back three.
Fellow England international Marcus Rashford is also under Ten Hag’s microscope after the most disappointing individual season of his career. There are mounting concerns from those within the club that the 24-year-old could actually be better off away from Old Trafford as speculation over his club future grows.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s performances and chances of a future at the club will be mulled over by Ten Hag. The former Crystal Palace right-back was purchased for £50million just under three years ago but appears to have lost his status as first-choice to Portugal international Diogo Dalot.
Plenty of the current first-team will not be around by the time Ten Hag arrives, with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani all expected to depart following the expiration of their respective contracts.
Their exits will free up room within the dressing rom for Ten Hag to bring in some additions of his own. Ajax defender Jurrien Timber is amongst those linked with a move.
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