One observer labelled a star Manchester United tried to sell a “top player”, and claimed it would’ve been a colossal error if an exit had taken place.
The Red Devils completed a cluster of deals on deadline day, with moves made on both the incomings and outgoings ends.
The headline attraction from those leaving Old Trafford was unquestionably Mason Greenwood. The 21-year-old will attempt to revive his career in Spain after joining LaLiga side Getafe on a season-long loan.
Elsewhere, Alvaro Fernandez (Granada) and Charlie McNeil (Stevenage) also left on loan, while Marc Jurado (Espanyol) and Logan Pye (Burnley) departed on permanent deals.
However, one player whose exit did not materialise was Scott McTominay.
Varying reports throughout the summer suggested Man Utd were open to cashing in on the Scotland international.
Ten Hag sought to revamp his central midfield options, with Fred sold to Fenerbahce and Donny van de Beek also made available for sale.
The Dutchman may yet leave Old Trafford despite the English deadline passing, with Galatasaray ready to pounce while the Turkish window remains open.
McTominay was another on the chopping block and West Ham came closest to signing the 26-year-old when tabling a £30m bid.
Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Fulham also registered interest, though the Athletic explained why an exit was blocked on deadline day.
The outlet revealed Ten Hag experienced a change of heart and became reluctant to lose a player who adds balance to his midfield. That was despite the loan move for Sofyan Amrabat gathering pace and being on the cards at the time.
Furthermore, no club came close to matching United’s £40m-plus valuation of the midfielder.
Now, speaking to online outlet Football Insider, pundit Gabby Agbonlahor reckons selling McTominay would’ve been a “travesty” for Man Utd.
Aborted McTominay exit the correct call, but Fred “had to go” – Agbonlahor
Explaining why, the ex-Aston Villa wideman said: “It would’ve been a travesty if they sold McTominay.
“They need the numbers, they’re in the Champions League now. You’re going to get injuries, suspensions. Ten Hag needs the numbers.”
But while Man Utd were ultimately right to retain McTominay, Agbonlahor believes the correct call was made when axing Fred.
“Fred had to go, he wasn’t good enough,” continued the pundit. “But it was strange to see them try and push McTominay out the door. On his day, he’s a top player.
“He’s still at the club now so he’s just got to prove them wrong and play his way into this side.”
McTominay’s chances of doing just that are set to diminish once Amrabat is officially unveiled at the club.
McTominay will count Casemiro, Amrabat, Christian Eriksen and Mason Mount ahead of him in the central midfield pecking order.
Nonetheless, retaining the Scot does ensure Ten Hag has reliable depth if and when it’s required.