“Ten Hag didn’t have to convince me” – Midfielder talks about Manchester United transfer

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag inside the stadium before the match.

Marcel Sabitzer joined Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United squad in January REUTERS/Sergio Perez.

Manchester United’s midfield issues continue to hamper Erik ten Hag’s project, but things could’ve been worse in the middle of the park if not for the arrival of Marcel Sabitzer.

The Dutch coach was very keen to sign Frenkie de Jong last summer, and after it became clear, the Barcelona midfielder was not going to join United, Christian Eriksen emerged as Ten Hag’s key progressor of the ball through the middle. But Eriksen sustained an ankle injury in the FA Cup clash with Reading and was ruled out of action for three months.

With only a handful of days remaining in the January transfer window at the time, United were left with very limited options to strengthen their midfield. They finally landed on Sabitzer as the man to cover for the injured Eriksen.

Sabitzer decided to join Manchester United in January

The Bayern Munich man wasn’t having the best of spells at the German outfit, spending most of his time on the bench under Julian Naglesmann, who preferred Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in his midfield.

As such, when United came calling, Sabitzer didn’t need much time to make up his mind. Reflecting on the transfer, the Austria international told Sky Sport (via UtdDistrict): “Erik ten Hag didn’t necessarily have to convince me. It was very stressful at the time. There was a lot going on, then the call came and I only had a few minutes to think about it. That’s why I made a decision relatively quickly.”

In the first half of the season in the Bundesliga, Sabitzer managed only seven starts. He has already equalled that tally in the Premier League. Although he’s enjoyed regular game-time, it is unlikely his move will be made permanent. The 29-year-old has impressed with his work rate and eye for goal, but in possession, he’s not better than Eriksen, who himself isn’t an ideal deep-lying midfielder.

It is understood United will be in the market for a new number eight, and have been linked with Brighton star Alexis Mac Allister.