Manchester United transfer timeline could see Erik ten Hag land top target – Richard Fay

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There might need to be a slight lowering of expectations ahead of Erik ten Hag’s first summer in charge at Old Trafford. Manchester United are set to back the Dutchman with a hefty transfer budget as he goes about his squad overhaul, though there is an acceptance that some positions that are in need of investment will need to be overlooked.

Ten Hag’s dilemma is that he must balance quality with quantity as he looks to restock a depleted squad with players determined to better themselves. That is, of course, easier said than done.

United have a track record of spending more in the summers after they have failed to qualify for the Champions League, though that is in part due to the fact that they often overpay to compensate for the large amount of Thursday night football on offer to new recruits .

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Six years ago, United were able to break the then-world record fee to sign Paul Pogba for £89million as they prepared for a season in the Europa League, though a big factor in his arrival was the lure of Jose Mourinho as manager. Three years ago, without an elite manager to boast about, spending £145m was only enough to get Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.

Ten Hag is certainly more qualified than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was, but his reputation is dwarfed by that of Mourinho six years ago, even if it didn’t result in success. This summer, United’s recruitment might be somewhere in the middle of those two previous regimes, with three or four signings the most likely, even if Ralf Rangnick has warned that as many as 10 might be needed instead.

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As a result, the summer budget simply won’t be able to stretch to sign a top target like Harry Kane or Declan Rice, with an emphasis on signing a bunch of players rather than one or two unique talents.

It doesn’t mean those two are gone for good though. In fact, their own personal plans could coincide perfectly with United’s own transfer timeline under Ten Hag.

With so much uncertainty regarding Chelsea’s financial future, United are in pole position to land West Ham star Rice this year, but as stated above, it seems highly unlikely they will be able to sanction a deal this summer when he is valued at well beyond £ 100million. It also doesn’t make sense to spend all that money on one player when they could better improve their squad with cheaper additions across the pitch.

The same can be said of Tottenham star Harry Kane, who would be out of United’s price range this summer and whom Man City will have no interest in signing if they do indeed complete a move for Erling Haaland instead.

Both he and his England teammate, Rice, could well find themselves playing for their current clubs for one more season before re-evaluating their futures in a year’s time with less to run on their contracts, when United might well be in a position to pounce .

By next year, Ten Hag might well have proven himself in English football, United could be back in the Champions League and their squad might only need a few finishing touches rather than a mass overhaul. In that scenario, Rice and Kane would be very much of interest, though that remains a very big ‘if’.

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There can be no doubt either of those players would greatly enhance the United side if they were to arrive this summer, but with so many players leaving, the focus needs to be on overhauling the entire playing squad rather than chasing big names in an effort to try and repair the club’s dented ego.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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