Man United FC

Ralph Hasenhuttl sacking could help Erik ten Hag solve Manchester United transfer problem

The resignation of the former Southampton manager could boost Manchester United's efforts to strengthen their defensive options.

There is no disputing that Manchester United have improved under Erik ten Hag, but they are far from complete.

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You would have expected a team to challenge for the Premier League title if it spent £225 million in a single transfer window ten years ago. Nonetheless, given the magnitude of Ten Hag’s renovation, United’s summer investment is viewed as more of a step in the right direction.

The additions of Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen, Antony, and Casemiro have all helped strengthen United’s first-team options, with Martin Dubravka remaining a perplexing loan deal – despite the fact that we all know how vital squad depth is.

One area in which United must prioritize is their striker choices. Cristiano Ronaldo will turn 38 in a few months, and Anthony Martial’s injury record suggests that the Frenchman is not a long-term solution.

It is reasonable to believe that the majority of the available immediate transfer funds will be used to sign a world-class center-forward, but recent developments may have simply prepared the path for United to complete another crucial deal.

Southampton’s decision to part ways with Ralph Hasenhuttl will surely result in more changes at the south coast club, as any potential new manager selects which players will be part of their long-term vision for the club.

Ten Hag has used Diogo Dalot in every game this season, and the Portugal international has been outstanding. Over the summer, the club needed to strengthen at right-back, and while the 23-year-recent old’s performances have lessened the urgency, the need remains.

United does not have to spend the cash to get a first-team full-back, but the dip in quality between Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for what Ten Hag requires is concerning. Despite being injured for the bulk of the season, the former Crystal Palace man is unlikely to have started ahead of Dalot.

Kyle Walker-Peters is one possibility that may suddenly become available to United as a result of Southampton’s leadership transition. Hasenhuttl offered the 25-year-old a shot in the Saints’ first team, which a new manager may not agree with. Although the right-back has been ruled out until after the World Cup, the break will provide the ideal opportunity for him to regain full fitness ahead of the arrival of the new head coach.

Tino Livramento had impressed for the south coast club with some outstanding performances at right-back, eventually replacing Walker-Peters in the lineup before suffering a long-term knee injury. With the 19-year-old expected to return in the new year, competition for the job will be tough.

As a result, United may provide Walker-Peters with an escape route to a club with a manager that loves aggressive full-backs and sees them as a need in today’s game. Should he be concerned about playing second fiddle to Dalot, he only needs to look at Luke Shaw’s recent resurgence.

The England international has now surpassed Malacia as United’s first-choice left-back, and while there is no doubt about the Dutch international’s quality, it demonstrates that Ten Hag is willing to select the team based only on merit.

If a move away from Southampton for Walker-Peters becomes plausible in the near future, United could do far worse than signing a player who checks practically every box Ten Hag looks for in a full-back while also providing much-needed backup for Dalot.

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