Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag in dreamland as masterstroke Man Utd transfer clears gigantic hurdle after double agreement reached

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag

A Manchester United move that perfectly fits the new outlook at Old Trafford has cleared another huge hurdle following news United’s only rival in the race have stepped aside.

A new era is dawning over Old Trafford, with British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe leading the way. Among the co-owner’s first tasks upon assuming full sporting control was to appoint the ‘best in class’ to senior positions.

Omar Berrada will soon start work as the new CEO, while Dan Ashworth (sporting director) and Jason Wilcox (technical director) are already in situ. Christopher Vivell has also arrived on an initial short-term basis and will serve as the club’s director of global talent.

With key positions filled and Erik ten Hag retained, United’s full focus is on overhauling an underperforming squad.

Regarding arrivals, Man Utd want to make additions at centre-back, central midfield and striker. Other positions could be addressed pending player exits.

Personal terms have been agreed with centre-back Matthijs De Ligt. Bayern Munich are demanding upwards of €50m before greenlighting a sale.

Manuel Ugarte is option No 1 in central midfield. The PSG and Uruguay destroyer will cost a similar fee to De Ligt and is open to joining Man Utd.

Finally, Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee is the man United have chosen to replace Anthony Martial and challenge Rasmus Hojlund for the starting role. Martial left United as a free agent on June 30.

AC Milan concede defeat for Zirkzee transfer

Prior to Man Utd entering the race for Zirkzee, it had appeared the 23-year-old Dutch international was bound for AC Milan.

Indeed, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano revealed Zirkzee was keen on signing with Milan and remaining in Italy.

Zirkzee can be signed via a €40m/£34m release clause which Milan signalled their intention to pay once it became active on July 1.

However, the issue of agent’s fees put a stop to Milan’s move, with the club unwilling to pay the €10m sum agent Kia Joorabchian is demanding for overseeing the deal.

That left the door for Man Utd to strike, though the threat of Milan always loomed large.

But according to Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who serves as a senior adviser at Milan – the Rossoneri have pulled the plug on their pursuit and paved the way for Zirkzee to join Man Utd.

In quotes carried by Fabrizio Romano, Ibrahimovic said: “It’s the past for us. We already have the new striker in mind but I’m not going to tell you the name.”

The Swedish legend added: “I’m not disappointed by his agent Kia. The truth is different, the reality is different.

“We’ve our plan for the new striker and we hope to make it happen as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: Man Utd wages: Top 11 earners at Old Trafford revealed as Ratcliffe prepares to shred colossal wage bill

Man Utd seal double agreement; fresh Bologna talks held

With Milan out of the running, Man Utd are now free to negotiate terms with Bologna at their own pace.

A double agreement is already in place, with both personal terms and the agent’s commission already sealed.

In what guise Man Utd will pay the €40m/£34m required to unlock the deal, however, is yet to be determined.

Man Utd are weighing up whether to attempt to sign Zirkzee by ignoring the clause and paying the €40m/£34m asking price in a structured deal.

Doing so would prevent the need for Man Utd to pay the full fee up front and in full. Given United’s summer transfer budget is modest prior to player sales, a structured deal would be ideal for United.

In any case, Zirkzee’s participation with the Netherlands at Euro 2024 means a deal isn’t likely to cross the finish line until the Dutch campaign has ended. The Netherlands will square off against England in the semi-finals on Wednesday night.

Zirkzee transfer a sign of what’s to come under Ratcliffe

Zirkzee represents the exact type of player Ratcliffe has instructed his underlings at Man Utd to target from here on out.

Aged 23, his prime years lay ahead, while the presence of the release clause means a deal can be struck for a fee below his true market value.

Furthermore, Zirkzee would also retain plenty of re-sale value throughout his United tenure given he’d be joining while in his early-mid twenties.

Man Utd have often signed ageing stars at the back end of their careers for big fees and when the time comes to cash in, have incurred sobering losses.

Raphael Varane – signed for £43m  – is one recent example on the back of the Frenchman leaving at zero cost one week ago.

Casemiro – signed for £70m while aged 30 – is another example of the types of transfers Man Utd will no longer sanction in the Ratcliffe era.

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