Four Midfielders Erik ten Hag Can Pursue If Man Utd Don’t Get Frenkie de Jong

FC Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong controls the ball.

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Manchester United look to spend big this transfer window. However, it is Barcelona who have surprisingly taken to the top of the spending list, with the Red Devils instead making some smart choices with regard to purchases and sales.

In this regard, the looming and even changing transfer saga of Frenkie de Jong is proving to be the reason behind the side’s relatively small transfer market, at least as far as numbers are concerned.

It cannot be denied that De Jong brings a strong brand of athletic midfield ethos which is intelligent in its tactical awareness and positional play to the table. However, if this saga continues in this manner, then Ten Hag could certainly do well to look for other players who fit the Dutchman’s profile.

1. Ruben Neves

The 25-year-old is one of the finest talents in the Premier League in what he does. The biggest one-up over De Jong is that Neves need not adjust to the League’s tempo and physicality. The Portuguese star could truly pilot change in the heart of the midfield.

Further, Neves will also provide the precise kind of progressive passing from deep that Ten Hag wants from De Jong but without the latter’s box-to-box prowess in a high-intensity system.


2. Ibrahim Sangaré

The Ivorian is another player who has come up on the radar of several clubs and would be a tactically smart signing. He is quite press-resistant which will be pivotal to some of the outfits against whom United struggle in the Premier League.

He is also physically sound which is something Scott McTominay is trying to work towards. The obvious risk here is that the PSV player is yet to be tested in a big league, but it is likely that the price-tag linked to him won’t be that high either. He has been on the Red Devils’ alleged wish-list along with a few other clubs and it will be interesting to see if he becomes the fallback option if the De Jong saga goes awry.


3. Ismaël Bennacer

The Algerian is exceptional at what he does and the Milan team is better for his regular inclusion. Akin to what De Jong would bring to Old Trafford, Bennacer is adept at carrying the ball and being resistant to pressing. These two qualities are precisely why De Jong is being targeted – minus of course the proven Ajax link.

There have been plenty of murmurs regarding his future, including a stray rumour of a potential swap deal with Donny van de Beek which would lead him to Old Trafford. But for the time being the only thing that may help in this transfer possibly materializing is that the 24-year-old is allegedly stalling on his contract negotiations.


4. Trust Garner – Don’t Spend

In the modern era winning has become synonymous with spending. However, the United DNA never truly relied on spending and instead trusted their academy graduates with a lot. As such, Ten Hag could do good at not spending big in the transfer market but instead permit James Garner to develop at Old Trafford and fill the gap of the absent De Jong.

Likewise, the promise held by Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal, especially in the ongoing pre-season tour, ought to be permitted to be materialized with first-team chances. Having said that, it does not change the fact that one of the three will have to be loaned out to facilitate their formative progress rather than warm benches.


What will the Dutch tactician do in this scenario? Or is it possible after all that there is more to the De Jong saga just yet?