Erik ten Hag may be forced to sign his fifth or even sixth-choice midfield target after a report revealed the reasons behind a quadruple Man Utd blow.
The Dutchman, 52, has been chosen as the man Manchester United believe can put them back on the right path. Ten Hag has an unenviable task with his first summer in charge set to be a hectic one.
The likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani will all leave as free agents. Nemanja Matic too will be allowed to walk and former boss Jose Mourinho was coy when asked about signing the Serbian for a third time.
Matic and Pogba’s exits will leave a void in central midfield. Impressive Nottingham Forest loanee James Garner could be retained, though a club the size of Man Utd cannot enter a season with only three midfield options including Fred and Scott McTominay.
As such, a blockbuster addition in the middle of the park is expected. And a whole host of eye-catching names have been linked.
However, according to the Daily Star, no fewer than four of Ten Hag’s top targets are now off the table.
The newspaper state Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips and Sergey Milinkovic-Savic all won’t be moving to Manchester this summer.
The reasons behind the quadruple blow were revealed, beginning with West Ham talisman Rice.
Rice wants what United can’t provide
News broke yesterday over an unprecedented eight-year contract extension Rice had been offered by West Ham. But despite the latest reports suggesting it will be rejected, the Star reckon he will remain with the Hammers for at least one more year.
His current deal expires in 2024 and the club have an option for a further 12 months. The 23-year-old reportedly has ‘no interest’ in moving to United while they’re not in the Champions League.
Secondly, Borussia Dortmund sensation Bellingham is reportedly on Ten Hag’s ‘wanted list’. However, the German club have apparently told United to ‘forget about’ a move this summer.
While no reason is stated, it stands to reason they will be doubly determined not to lose two of their best players in the same window. Erling Haaland is bound for Man City.
Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips also won’t be moving to United according to the report. The long-standing rivalry between the two clubs is seemingly key in that regard.
Finally, a move for perennial Man Utd target Milinkovic-Savic is deemed a non-starter. Ten Hag is deemed an ‘admirer’ of the 27-year-old, though Lazio won’t entertain offers this summer.
So, who’s left for Man Utd?
Assuming the Star’s reporting is accurate and that quartet are off the table, there are still plenty of stellar options United have been linked with.
Wolves’ Ruben Neves could be on the move this summer and would represent a readymade and proven addition. The Portuguese is also a target of Arsenal’s, though they now appear a likelier bet to land Youri Tielemans.
Consultant-to-be Ralf Rangnick could be key if United are to raid RB Leipzig for Konrad Laimer. Monday’s Transfer Gossip provided the latest on that front – including a dangerous new suitor.
Fellow Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara also falls into that same bracket, while Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara has been mentioned. But the most high-profile target is undoubtedly that of Frenkie de Jong.
De Jong has the obvious Dutch connection to Ten Hag and played under the incoming boss at Ajax before moving to Spain.
A £69m move is reportedly 95 per cent completed and he, above all, would represent the classiest signing in our eyes.