Manchester United agree surprise midfielder deal with Ten Hag’s former club

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag speaks with Manchester United players.

Zidane Iqbal leaves Manchester United without making any competitive appearance under Erik ten Hag Reuters/Ed Sykes.

Manchester United have agreed to let Zidane Iqbal join FC Utrecht on a permanent basis.

The highly-rated midfielder, who made his first-team debut in the Champions League against Young Boys in 2021, was one of the stand-out players during Erik ten Hag’s first pre-season tour as United manager. The Dutch coach named Iqbal in the matchday squad 17 times during the 2022-23 campaign, but didn’t hand him any first-team minutes.

After another promising season with the club’s youth team, the 20-year-old was expected to be part of this summer’s pre-season plans. However, the club’s hierarchy have made a surprise decision with regard to his future.

Manchester United agree to sell talented midfielder

Iqbal is set to move to Utrecht, who will pay a transfer fee of up to €1million for his services, The Athletic have claimed. Ten Hag was their manager from 2015-17 before moving to Eredivisie giants Ajax.

The United academy prospect completed a medical on Monday and has agreed to sign a four-year contract. The Red Devils have included a significant sell-on clause.

Last summer, Ten Hag allowed James Garner, another talented academy graduate, to join Everton permanently. Further, Anthony Elanga and Dean Henderson are also facing the exit door.

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Elanga has attracted interest from Germany after failing to accumulate regular minutes under the ex-Utrecht manager. Henderson, meanwhile, is in demand at Nottingham Forest, who are reportedly prepared to finance a deal to sign the England international permanently.

But not every academy product is on the fringes of the first-team fold under Ten Hag. Kobbie Mainoo, 18, made an appearance each in the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup, and Alejandro Garnacho has established himself as an impact substitute. Marcus Rashford, now a senior member of the squad, is also set to commit his long-term future to the club.