Incoming new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag plans to make wholesale changes to his side – but will put his immediate focus into the signing of not one, but two, central defenders, according to a source.
The 52-year-old has been trusted by the Red Devils to lead them into a bright new era. Having failed to hit the heights this season, United are turning to the Ajax coach on a deal that makes him the best-paid Dutch coach in Premier League history. Signing an initial three-year deal, Ten Hag’s brief is a simple one…
Indeed, he will be asked to help transform the club’s fortunes, having fallen way behind Manchester City and Liverpool in recent seasons.
Their shortcomings been brutally exposed by arch-rivals Liverpool this season, especially, having lost to a 9-0 ‘aggregate’ scoreline.
Perhaps the biggest problem for Manchester United has been their defensive shoddiness. Having already conceded 51 goals this season, that tally represents their highest goals against in over 40 years.
As such, it’s no shock to see that Ten Hag – following guidance from interim boss Ralf Rangnick – plans to address that as a first task.
One of the major let-downs this season has been the form of captain Harry Maguire in the heart of defence. As an £80m signing, he has struggled to maintain his consistent best in the heart of the Red Devils defence.
Further down the line, he also may find his entire future at Old Trafford in doubt. That’s certainly an opinion expressed by Roy Keane, who has again recently savaged the United skipper.
Now, according to Italian journalist Rudy Galetti, Ten Hag is targeting not one, but two new centre-halves.
Pau Torres wanted as Raphael Varane partner
He states that Ten Hag is targeting deals for both Pau Torres and Jurrien Timber.
Ajax star Timber has enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season under Ten Hag at Ajax. Likely to cost a £40m fee, Galetti reckons he could be brought in to play as right-back, but with a long-term eye as a centre-half.
Torres, meanwhile, has been on United’s wishlist for some time. They considered him last summer, before opting instead to sign Raphael Varane.
Now, according to Galetti, Ten Hag is ready to go back in for the Villarreal lynchpin.
The Yellow Submarine are likely to demand a hefty fee for the Spain international. And according to the journalist, he sees Torres as an ideal foil for Varane in the heart of defence.
Defensive signings a must for Ten Hag, Man Utd
The signing of both players will surely spell bad news for both Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The pair signed for a combined cost of £130m – and both will now be sweating over their futures.
Maguire, given his status as club captain, may let survive given Axel Tuanzebe, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are also all likely to depart.
But losing both the captaincy and his, potentially, his place in defence will hit Maguire hard, particularly in a World Cup year.
Erik Ten Hag wants to get rid of 12 Manchester United players
Erik Ten Hag wants to get rid of 12 Manchester United players this summer as he starts his rebuild
That said, Ten Hag will know exactly what changes he needs to make.
If United are to return to the summit of both English and European football, then some tough decisions will need making.
And having shown his no-nonsense approach to Ajax, United will back their new manager in the transfer market.
Elsewhere, other reports have stated Ten Hag has four other names at the top of his wishlist. However, a lack of Champions League football will likely delay those plans due to a stunting of their income.