Last season, Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez played in the Eredivisie, and Christian Eriksen rose to prominence at Ajax.
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag maintains that he wants to sign English players but that their fees are prohibitively expensive.
Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez have joined United from Eredivisie clubs, while Christian Eriksen rose to prominence at Ajax and trained under Ten Hag as a free agent earlier this year.
Ten Hag has also targeted Ajax defender Jurrien Timber and striker Antony, while United is still interested in Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, whom Ten Hag coached at Ajax for 18 months.
United’s transfer market options are limited due to their failure to qualify for the Champions League, but they have invested £55.3 million in Argentina international Martinez.
Raheem Sterling joined Chelsea from Manchester City earlier this month for a fee of £47.5 million, which could rise to £50 million, while Jack Grealish became English football’s first £100 million player last year. Three years ago, United paid £80 million for Harry Maguire, the most expensive defender in the game’s history, and Jadon Sancho joined for £72.9 million last year.
The ‘English tax’ hurt United in 2019 when they spent £50 million for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is now eligible for sale. Senior United sources claimed at the time that they preferred to pursue British players, and Ten Hag agreed, despite preferring familiarity with his three new additions.
“I want to sign English players because I believe there is only one criterion, and that is quality in combination with money,” Ten Hag added. “It appears that English players are fairly pricey.” It’s an undeniable reality. In the end, it comes down to quality.”
Ten Hag also eliminated any doubts about Martinez’s 5ft 9 height. “I don’t think he’s the tallest, but he’s quite good in the air.” That makes me feel at ease. Of course, the proper balance is required. He has good timing, which is one of his skills.
“I believe we have fantastic players [at center-back], but I also believe we need a good and deep group.” Last year, I studied Manchester United’s left side of the defense. He is left-footed, which gives him an edge in possession and defense.”