Erik ten Hag is desperate to strengthen his midfield during the summer transfer window and history shows that’s not an area where Manchester United have had success before.
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When Erik ten Hag arrived at Manchester United, he immediately identified the central midfielder as his priority in the summer transfer window.
That’s hardly surprising, given the impending exodus. At the end of June, MU will lose Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata on free transfers when their contracts expire. Their departure, combined with the poor form of others in that position during the woeful 2021/22 season, means new additions are a must in midfield.
Ten Hag had made Frenkie de Jong his priority target, but was disappointed with Barcelona’s stance sold too many Dutch people. Barca want up to £70m for De Jong, while United are understood to be willing to pay an initial fee of around £60m, with an additional £5m due to add-ons. That deadlock is organize other potential deals meaning with days to go until United begin their pre-season preparations, they have yet to bring in any new players for their manager.
United offered a contract to Christian Eriksen, who is considering whether to stay with Brentford, to come back Tottenham or join the Ten Hag at Old Trafford. The 30-year-old midfielder is nearing the end of his contract and could give him a choice of three clubs to join on a free transfer.
United have been linked with several other midfielders – Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips and wolf ‘Ruben Neves among them – but now waiting for De Jong. It is an uncomfortable position for Ten Hag, who want to bring in five players in the transfer window before the 2022/23 season.
The 52-year-old former Ajax boss is not the first United manager to struggle with central midfield. In fact, since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013, there have been their successors. It all started, famously, with David Moyes’ move to sign Marouane Fellaini from his former club Everton in September 2013.
Moyes was gone within 10 months of succeeding Ferguson and – rightly or wrongly – Fellaini was seen as a lightning rod for the post-Ferguson era over transfer criticism. But the Belgian major is not the only questionable signing United have completed in recent years.
Looking through the full list of midfielders signed over the past nine years, there aren’t too many undeniable success stories. Mata is leaving at the end of the month after eight years at Old Trafford in which he has conquered everyone with his personality, but his record 51 goals and 47 assists in 285 appearances is It’s a bit disappointing, considering the form he’s shown. Chelsea before he arrives.
Ander Herrera, who joined Athletic Bilbao for £29m in June 2014, was a persistent and productive ball-winner for United until leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, but he was failed to establish itself as a mainstay club. But the Spaniard fared much better than Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, both of whom arrived in July 2015 and failed.
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The summer of 2016 was similarly disappointing, and much more wasteful, with Pogba’s £89m from Juventus and the £30 million transfer of Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Arsenal neither offers value for money. Jose Mourinho brought his favorite midfielder, Nemanja Matic, to the club for £40m from Chelsea in July 2017 and the Serbian has largely delivered on what is expected of him, although His decline has been notable in recent years.
Had Matic really reached his peak, United would not have spent £52m to sign Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk a year later. The Brazilian has done a great job to turn his image around at the club and is now a consistent player, if not a £52m player.
In the modern era of signings at United, one stands out above the rest. There is no doubt that Bruno Fernandes has been on the move since joining Sporting Lisbon in January 2020 – something that can’t be said for Donny van de Beek, a midfield newcomer after United neglected the area last summer.
Full list of midfielders signed by Manchester United since 2013
Donny van de Beek £40m – Ajax, September 2020
Bruno Fernandes £67.7m – Sporting Lisbon, January 2020
Fred £52 million – Shakhtar Donetsk, June 2018
Nemanja Matic £40m – Chelsea, July 2017
Paul Pogba £89m – Juventus, August 2016
Henrikh Mkhitaryan £30m – Arsenal, July 2016
Morgan Schneiderlin £31.5 million – SouthamptonJuly 2015
Bastian Schweinsteiger £6.5 million – Bayern Munich, July 2015
Ander Herrera £29m – Athletic Bilbao, June 2014
Juan Mata £37.1m – Chelsea, January 2014
Marouane Fellaini £27.5m – Everton, September 2013