Erik ten Hag is determined to shake Manchester United out of the doldrums and knows he needs to work with better players to help him in his quest, amid claims he has confirmed one £40m man can leave and a summer signing also needs replacing.
United finished a very-respectable third, won the Carabao Cup and also reached the FA Cup final during the Dutchman’s first season at the helm, setting up raised expectations that they could close that gap further on Manchester City this season.
However, little has gone to plan for Manchester United during his second season in charge, with the club so far losing an extraordinary 10 of the 20 matches they have played in so far.
That form not only threatens Ten Hag’s future at the club amid growing claims he could soon face the sack, but also points to an early exit from the Champions League, with only a win over Bayern Munich and a draw between FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray sending United into the knockout stages.
And with the club currently five points adrift of this season’s top-four places, it seems they need a remarkable upturn in performances and results if they are to book their place in the UCL again in the 2024/25 campaign.
Ten Hag was given substantial backing over the summer to help United grow even more. But sadly the £102m invested on Mason Mount and Andre Onana has yet to be pay dividends. And while £72m man Rasmus Hojlund has shown promise, all of his five goals have come in the Champions League, with the player yet to break his duck in the Premier League.
Ten Hag tells Donny van de Beek it’s time to leave Man Utd
Now Ten Hag is planning to get tough with his underachieving squad and will use the upcoming January window to seriously freshen up his squad.
First up, he has appeared to confirm plans that Donny van de Beek can move on, just days after we exclusively revealed the £40m transfer flop was a target for Juventus as part of a double deal.
Van de Beek, signed initially as a would-be replacement for Paul Pogba, has made just two appearances in all competitions this season and has now fallen behind teenag star Kobbie Mainoo in the pecking order.
Now Ten Hag has indictated for the first time that a parting of ways is on the cards for his former Ajax prodigy.
Discussing his immediate future and in a hint the player has not made the most of the chances that have come his way, Ten Hag has stated: “I think Donny has to play. In games he was in the squad, so he had the opportunity.
“It was a slow start to the season because he was still recovering from physical setbacks.
“But he is back now and he is doing really well in training, so if you can’t give him perspective then I can see he has to play for his career and for everything.”
Per reports, United are seeking a modest fee of around €10m (£8.7m) for a player, who has just two goals from 62 appearances for the Red Devils.
As well as Juventus, he is also reportedly a target for Turkish giants Galatasaray, who also explored a possible deal for him over the summer.
Man Utd ready to find upgrade for Sofyan Amrabat
However, it seems the 26-year-old will not be the only headline departure for United, with the club also actively looking to offload winger Jadon Sancho following his very public fall-out with Ten Hag.
Short-term, United’s focus will reportedly be on strengthening their central midfield options, especially amid speculation that Casemiro could depart for Saudi Arabia.
There are also claims that Ten Hag and his staff have expressed concern at the displays so far of summer signing Sofyan Amrabat. After a protracted chase, the Morocco star moved to Old Trafford on a season’s loan from Fiorentina for €10m, which gives them an option to make the deal a permanent €20m move next summer.
However, the 27-year-old has struggled badly so far, with United only winning four of the eight games Amrabat has started in so far.
Indeed, it was claimed last week that Amrabat already looks unlikely to be signed permanently by United, with Ten Hag accepting he needs to find better.
Football Insider now takes that claim even further by stating United’s coaching staff do not feel Amrabat has shown his best so far. And unless there is an immediate improvement in his displays, the club has already made their mind up to send him back to Fiorentina at the end of the season.
Moreover, Ten Hag and Co have also reportedly held talks on further recruitment for their central midfield area in a bid to improve their prospects this season.
And while much focus has been placed on their defensive and attacking issues, it’s reported that Ten Hag feels that his midfield area is in fact his biggest concern.
Only Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and youngster Mainoo of their current midfield options has shown anything like the required standards this season.
And with a new signing targeted in January, the writing may already be on the wall for Amrabat at Old Trafford.