After a report exposed the grounds behind a quadruple Man United blow, Erik ten Hag may be compelled to sign his fifth or even sixth-choice midfield target.
The 52-year-old Dutchman has been named as the guy Manchester United believes can get them back on track. With his first summer in charge set to be chaotic, Ten Hag faces an unpleasant assignment.
Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Edinson Cavani are all set to depart the club as free agents. Nemanja Matic will also be free to leave, with previous manager Jose Mourinho remaining tight-lipped when questioned about re-signing the Serbian.
Matic and Pogba’s exits will leave a void in central midfield. Impressive Nottingham Forest loanee James Garner could be retained, though a club the size of Manchester United cannot enter a season with only three midfield options, including Fred and Scott McTominay.
As such, a blockbuster addition in the middle of the park is expected. And a whole host of eye-catching names have been linked.
However, according to the Daily Star, no fewer than four of Ten Hag’s top targets are now off the table.
The newspaper states that Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips, and Sergey Milinkovic-Savic all won’t be moving to Manchester this summer.
The reasons behind the quadruple blow were revealed, beginning with the West Ham talisman, Rice.
Rice wants what United can’t provide.
News broke yesterday over an unprecedented eight-year contract extension that Rice had been offered by West Ham. But despite the latest reports suggesting it will be rejected, the Star reckons he will remain with the Hammers for at least one more year.
His current deal expires in 2024 and the club have an option for a further 12 months. The 23-year-old reportedly has ‘no interest’ in moving to United while they’re not in the Champions League.
Secondly, Borussia Dortmund sensation Bellingham is reportedly on Ten Hag’s ‘wanted list’. However, the German club have apparently told United to ‘forget about’ a move this summer.
While no reason is stated, it stands to reason they will be doubly determined not to lose two of their best players in the same window. Erling Haaland is bound for Man City.
Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips also won’t be moving to United according to the report. The long-standing rivalry between the two clubs is seemingly key in that regard.
Finally, a move for perennial Man Utd target Milinkovic-Savic is deemed a non-starter. Ten Hag is deemed an "admirer" of the 27-year-old, though Lazio won’t entertain offers this summer.
So, who’s left for Man Utd?
Assuming the Star’s reporting is accurate and that quartet are off the table, there are still plenty of stellar options United have been linked with.
Wolves’ Ruben Neves could be on the move this summer and would represent a ready-made and proven addition. The Portuguese is also a target of Arsenal’s, though they now appear a likelier bet to land Youri Tielemans.
Consultant-to-be Ralf Rangnick could be key if United are to raid RB Leipzig for Konrad Laimer. Monday’s Transfer Gossip provided the latest on that front – including a dangerous new suitor.
Fellow Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara also falls into that same bracket, while Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara has been mentioned. But the most high-profile target is undoubtedly that of Frenkie de Jong.
De Jong has the obvious Dutch connection to Ten Hag and played under the incoming boss at Ajax before moving to Spain.
A £69m move is reportedly 95 per cent completed and he, above all, would represent the classiest signing in our eyes.
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