Erik ten Hag and Manchester United will likely be angry after a midfield target was urged to snub their advances and instead join a Premier League rival such as Manchester City or Arsenal.
Man Utd will return to action just three days after the World Cup finishes as they play Burnley in the Carabao Cup round of 16 on Wednesday December 21. Manager Ten Hag will likely rest players who have reached the knockout rounds of the World Cup with their countries, such as Bruno Fernandes of Portugal and England star Marcus Rashford.
After that, Man Utd get back in the mix in the Premier League by hosting Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Tuesday December 27.
A few wins on the bounce could see the Red Devils get into the top four. They currently sit in fifth spot on 26 points, three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and with a game in hand on the north London side.
Ten Hag and Man Utd won’t just be looking ahead towards the upcoming Christmas fixtures. They will also have one eye on the January transfer window.
The Manchester giants are in desperate need of a striker following Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit by mutual consent. With Rashford wanting to play at left wing and Anthony Martial not up to scratch, Ten Hag will likely ask the Man Utd board to spend big on a new centre-forward.
Another position the Dutch coach is looking to resolve is central midfield. Of course, Man Utd did spend an initial £60m to capture Brazil international Casemiro from Real Madrid.
However, Ten Hag also wanted a creative midfielder to join his squad, namely Frenkie de Jong. Ultimately, Man Utd were unable to land him as he wants to remain at Barcelona.
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De Jong’s Barca team-mate Franck Kessie has emerged as a target for Man Utd in recent months, while he is also on the radars of Tottenham and Aston Villa.
Former Liverpool player Ryan Babel has given his take on whether the Ivorian midfielder should move to Old Trafford.
Babel urged Kessie against such a transfer, insisting it would be a ‘step down’ from Barca. He went on to name City and Arsenal as better clubs for the 25-year-old.
“For Frenkie I would not recommend United in all honesty,” Babel said during a recent interview (via Metro).
“At least not today. He needs a team that wants to play football, proper football on the ground.
“Yes, Man United has a coach that eventually if he has the right players can do that.
“They have so far have shown signs that Erik ten Hag knows what to do, but by far it is not the level as what he has done in Ajax.
“So for Frankie personally, if you go from Barcelona to United, I think that is a step down.
“In terms of technical aspects. I prefer to see him in a team like [Manchester] City, or even Arsenal as well.”
As Babel is a former Liverpool man, his comments could be part of a ploy to wind up Man Utd and their fans.
His statement shouldn’t put Kessie off Man Utd. They may have become a graveyard for top talent in recent years, but Ten Hag is turning things around.
He is getting the best out of Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Rashford. And the manager will be hoping their form convinces Kessie that Man Utd is the right place for him.
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