Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United could benefit from signing Norwich City right-back Max Aarons this summer, while rubbishing fears about Jurrien Timber’s lack of height.
New manager Erik ten Hag was officially unveiled to the media as United’s new manager on Monday, marking the beginning of a new era for the club. Following a wretched 2021/22 campaign, big changes are expected to take place at Old Trafford this summer, not least with the first-team squad.
Although Ten Hag is still conducting his analysis of the squad he has inherited from Ralf Rangnick, several new signings are expected to made this summer. The likes of Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard are expected to join Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani in leaving the club, freeing up spaces for new recruits.
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Although strengthening the center of midfield is expected to be top priority this summer, United also desperately need to bolster their defense after conceding 57 league goals this term. And for former United ace Ferdinand, the club should turn to Norwich ace Aarons to help solve their right-back troubles, insisting he could have a long-term impact.
“Someone like Max Aarons, you could put him like a Chris Smalling-type signing where they come in and they have an impact,” Ferdinand told Vibe with Five. “They may not be straight starters immediately but they go and they stay there for 10 years and have a really good career and they impact the club at different levels.”
Aarons, despite being relegated with Norwich this season, is only 22 and is considered to have a high ceiling. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is understood to have been deemed surplus to requirements by Ten Hag, meaning it is almost certain a right-back will be signed.
United are already being strongly linked with a player that is capable of playing at right-back in the form of Ajax ace Timber — although he is more suited to playing at centre-back. But despite his high potential and undisputed levels of talent, concerns have been raised about his lack of height, standing at 5ft 10ins.
Ferdinand continued: “I think the way Ten Hag’s playing, looking at it, it’s like, ‘We’re going to be the team that’s the aggressor, we’re going to be the team that dictates and dominates the games’. So he’s looking to play on the halfway line.
“He isn’t looking to play in a deep block, so he’s not thinking about [Timber’s height]. One thing he’ll have to think about is the physical element in the Premier League is very different to what he’s seen in Holland.
“So defending crosses, you could be 5 ft 10, we saw Patrice Evra he was 5 ft 3 probably but he was one of the best headers of the ball when we were doing defensive set-pieces – and he was a threat in the opposing box as well. So it can be done but whether he’s that guy, time will tell.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.