Erik ten Hag, the new manager of Manchester United, is said to have chosen Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong as one of his top targets to lead the change at Old Trafford.
The 52-year-old was appointed as the club’s next permanent manager earlier this week and will take over at the end of the season. But, with his appointment now official, attention is turning to how Ten Hag will go about halting the Red Devils’ downward spiral.
The Dutchman joins United at a low point in their history, with the club mired in a five-year trophy drought and lagging their main rivals by a country mile. Ten Hag plans a dramatic makeover of the coaching staff this summer, putting his personal stamp on it.
One issue that the next manager will have to address soon and firmly is the argument over who will be United’s captain next season. This season, Harry Maguire has worn the armband, although his drastic downturn in form has cast doubt on his place.
It has been stated that his United teammates have questioned his place in the squad, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick continuing to play him despite his frequently poor performances.
In a heated statement, Maguire responded to those thoughts, stating: “I’ve had a few awful games this season. But I wouldn’t be starting every game for Manchester United if I was consistently underperforming or not performing well enough.”
He elaborated: “There’s a reason why both managers have started me in every game – for what I provide to the team, and for what I bring to the starting eleven. But I’m also aware that I’m the captain of this club. I’m quite expensive. And if things aren’t going well and we’re surrendering too many goals, I’ll be chastised.”
However, according to rumors in Spain, Ten Hag is ready to make a clean break and make Barcelona’s De Jong the “project leader” when he comes to England this summer. The two compatriots had great success together at Ajax, and while the midfielder is happy at the Camp Nou, Diario Sport claims his old manager might persuade him to transfer to the Premier League with the promise of being at the forefront of his plans.
The Blaugrana want to keep De Jong, but their well-publicized financial troubles may make a deal possible if the money is right. The 24-year-old joined Barcelona in the summer of 2019 for €75 million (£63 million) and is a regular for Xavi’s dynamic side.
Ten Hag’s goal appears to be central midfield, where he will join a club devoid of options with the impending departures of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. Matic has previously stated his desire to leave Old Trafford, while Pogba appears to have played his final game for United after suffering an injury in the defeat to Liverpool.
Rangnick stated, ” “As of now, it appears that he will not renew his contract, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps the club or Erik [ten Hag] will not want to renew his contract, I’m not sure. He’s most likely not going to be here next season.”