The new boss at Old Trafford wants a total of five new signings this summer, but strengthening midfield is his absolute priority
Erik ten Hag has made it clear to Manchester United that he needs them to supply both Frenkie de Jong and Christian Eriksen this summer, with the pair seen as crucial to his rebuilding at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag wants to fill his United team with more technically gifted players than has been the case in recent years, with possession as key to the system he wants to introduce at the club.
United are therefore looking to step up their hunt for De Jong, with Barcelona’s appreciation of the midfielder being the biggest stumbling block so far.
The Red Devils were under the impression that a bid of around £51million ($62.5million) would be enough to convince the Catalans to sell, but were instead given figures of nearly £86million ($105million) .
GOAL has learned, however, that a compromise of between £64-73 million ($78-90 million) with add-ons could let the deal go through.
While United are adamant they will turn their attention to other targets if they can’t strike a deal, GOAL can confirm that their interest in free agent Eriksen is an addition to De Jong, not an alternative.
Why does Ten Hag want both De Jong and Eriksen?
Ten Hag plans to completely transform United’s style of play – relying on possession, rather than the counter-attacking football played under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho.
He believes he needs better ball manipulators than he currently has, and tasked football director John Murtough with producing more cultured midfielders than his predecessors would have preferred.
With the departures of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, there are also many gaps for him to fill in his first transfer window at the club.
While he is happy to be working with a leaner squad than has been the case for years, there is an acceptance that United will have to be heavily active this summer.
How do De Jong and Eriksen fit into Ten Hag’s Man Utd XI?
De Jong is United’s main target as Ten Hag believes the 25-year-old has a range of skills that are different from his current roster.
The Netherlands international will be used to pick up the ball in deep positions and carry it forward, either with his feet or with his impressive array of passes.
United haven’t had that type of midfielder since Michael Carrick’s retirement, with Matic more of a destroyer and Fred’s use of the ball inconsistent.
Eriksen is also very comfortable catching the ball in tight spaces to reduce pressure and maintain possession.
The former Tottenham playmaker is also more of an attacking threat and could play alongside Bruno Fernandes as one of the double number 10, as an orthodox number 10 or in a deeper role, allowing United to be more versatile in terms of their formations.
What other players are Man Utd targeting this summer?
Ten Hag wants to attract five new players this summer, with midfield as a priority.
He also needs at least one attacker – and has already seen leading target Darwin Nunez join fierce rivals Liverpool.
Inters Denzel Dumfries is one of the right-backs being considered, but Jurrien Timber, Ten Hag’s primary defensive target, is said to have decided to stay with Ajax.
Pau Torres van Villarreal is therefore another option considered a ne-centerback.
Ten Hag also admires Ajax winger Anthonyforward together with RB Leipzig Christopher Nkunku†
United also hope to sign Derby County prospect Malcolm Ebiowei soon, with the teenage winger out of contract with the Rams and unlikely to stay after their relegation to League One.
Ebiowei is seen as a star in the making, and United are looking to beat a long list of potential candidates to sign.