Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag confirm transfer bid for ex-Tottenham star Harry Kane

Harry Kane on the ball for Tottenham Hotspur against Manchester United in the Premier League last season

Erik ten Hag has opened up about Manchester United's failed attempt to sign Harry Kane last summer.

The Reds had set their sights on Kane as their prime acquisition, but after Tottenham rebuffed their approach, and Kane's subsequent move to Bayern Munich, United shifted focus. They invested in young talent instead, bringing in Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta for £72m.

With over £400m spent during Ten Hag's two summer windows at the helm, the club found itself constrained by Premier League financial regulations, impacting their ability to make significant moves in the January transfer market. Ten Hag expressed his frustration at not being able to add to his squad in the 2023 winter window and missing out on top target Kane.

"This club can only have outstanding players because the expectations are so high," he said in an interview with Sky Sports. "Everyone has an opinion about Manchester United and it can only be outstanding players.

"There's an expectation around every game from us so you can only fulfil that expectation when you have those outstanding players. But in the last decade and in this period, we couldn't always get the players we wanted.

"But then you have to build and you have to accept that you get talent in instead of players who already proved it in the past. We have had some choices made with talents like Rasmus Hojlund.

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"I can see a striker who already proved it, who we want to sign and we couldn't get him. And then we went to Rasmus because he's a talent."

Ten Hag - fighting for his job under Sir Jim Ratcliffe's new sporting and recruitment regime - underlined that he is not comparing Hojlund to all-time England record scorer Kane, and says he needs time to develop. However, he warned that United's climb back to the top will be prolonged due to the lack of transfer pull in the market over the last decade, including during his own tenure.

Confirming his former transfer interest in Kane, Ten Hag added: "Yes, and you know Harry Kane will get you 30 goals. I think Rasmus will get there, but he needs time.

"It's not fair to assess him the same as Harry Kane. I would never compare two players because they are very different. But with Hojlund, I think we had the biggest potential in the striker position last summer and we are very happy with him.

"He also needs time to adapt and we are very pleased he showed his assets in scoring goals. He had a very good period where he scored many games after he showed it, but before and after, he had some physical issues, which is normal for a young player coming up. But it has a negative impact on the team result and that's what you have to accept.

"Then you go back to the fans and the opinion makers, and they don't understand or they don't want to understand this. It is how Man United gets judged, they only see the result, but we need time.

"You have to accept the process is going slower and you can't then expect to straight [away] compete for titles in the Champions League and Premier League."