Man Utd set surprising January transfer stance with club ‘reluctant’ to offload midfielder Ten Hag hasn’t used

Man Utd forwards Zidane Iqbal and Facundo Pellistri Credit: Alamy
Man Utd forwards Zidane Iqbal and Facundo Pellistri Credit: Alamy

Manchester United look unlikely to be willing to let one of their players who could do with more gametime leave the club in January, per a report.

Over the first few months of his reign as manager, Erik ten Hag has been working out which players he can rely on most. Likewise, some of his other squad members have been learning that they do not figure prominently in his plans.

Hence, the January transfer window will be an interesting one at Old Trafford. It will be another chance for them to shape the squad in Ten Hag’s image.

In terms of signings, the manager wants to bring in Cody Gakpo from PSV. There could also be other options for them to take a look at.

Some potential departures might also have to be considered. While January is never the likeliest time for wholesale changes, it could represent a chance for some fringe players to leave on loan.

For example, at the same time last year, Donny van de Beek went to Everton, Anthony Martial went to Sevilla, and Axel Tuanzebe went to Napoli, among some other similar exits.

There were also opportunities for some young players to drop into the EFL to aid their development. In two cases, Teden Mengi spent six months with Birmingham City, and Ethan Laird signed for Bournemouth, with whom he won promotion.

This time around, one player who has been tipped to seek a loan exit after struggling to make his mark on the first team is Zidane Iqbal.

The Iraq international made his debut under Ralf Rangnick in the Champions League last season. However, he has not added to his sole senior appearance yet under Ten Hag.

Nor have there been many opportunities for Iqbal at youth level, since he is usually training with the first-team squad.

Therefore, there has been a feeling that a loan away from Man Utd might benefit him. In that regard, there have been links with a move to Middlesbrough, where he would be learning his trade under a certain Michael Carrick.

Man Utd make potentially damaging decision for Zidane Iqbal

However, the Manchester Evening News is reporting that Man Utd officials are “reluctant” to let go of Iqbal in January.

They believe they will not be harming his development by keeping him around the first team for another six months. Furthermore, there are concerns that there is not enough youth in their midfield.

Therefore, Ten Hag might yet have to turn to him at some point in the second half of the season, so it is thought. Realistically, how frequently that would be is questionable.

Aware that the situation will not be the same forever, the club’s decision makers appear more likely to let Iqbal seek a loan exit in the summer. But the 2022-23 season looks to be one he will be spending in full in Manchester.

That said, the 19-year-old is behind the likes of Christian Eriksen, Fred, Scott McTominay, van de Beek and Casemiro in Ten Hag’s pecking order at present.

He may have to rely on cup competitions in order to get more gametime, while making the most of training sessions to learn more within his development.

Regular gametime elsewhere might be preferable, in all honesty. But if Man Utd have made the opposite decision for Iqbal, it will be up to him to make the most of that instead.

There are many years ahead in his career, so perhaps he can patiently use this season to prepare for that future.

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