Man Utd: 'Priority position' emerges for Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford

Incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag on the touchline

Incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will prioritise strengthening his midfield this summer, according to journalist Pete O’Rourke.

The Red Devils have had a disappointing campaign, leaving ten Hag with a tough job to turn things around next term, and O’Rourke expects him to focus on bringing in a midfielder to improve the team.

Have Man United already got a midfield target in mind?

United have already been linked with a player that ten Hag knows well – Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong.

Ten Hag and de Jong worked together at Ajax, prior to the latter moving to Barcelona for £65m in 2019. Now, ten Hag has his eye on a reunion with the 24-year-old as he looks to get United back into the top four next season.

De Jong still has four years left on his Barcelona contract, though, indicating that agreeing a deal with the Catalan giants may be far from straightforward.

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What has O’Rourke said about ten Hag and de Jong?

O’Rourke thinks ten Hag will want to sign a midfielder as he is set to lose a couple of players in this position in the coming months.

He has hinted that going after de Jong makes sense due to his previous relationship with ten Hag, but believes the 13-time Premier League champions may have their work cut out due to Xavi wanting the 40-cap international to stay at the Nou Camp.

O’Rourke told GIVEMESPORT: “Obviously, midfield is a priority position for Manchester United this summer with Pogba and Matic set to leave on free transfers. Frenkie de Jong had a great time at Ajax under ten Hag, helping them reach the Champions League semi-finals, and also helped him win that big-money move to Barcelona.

“It’s been a bit mixed for de Jong at Barcelona, but I know Xavi is very keen to keep hold of him at the club. He says he wants to keep the Dutchman at the club and establish him as a first-team regular.”

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Can de Jong solve Man United’s midfield problems?

There are a number of reasons why United have fallen so far behind Manchester City and Liverpool this season, and their lack of control in midfield is certainly one of them.

City have Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva working hard and producing moments of quality in the final third, plus Rodri sweeping up in front of the back four, Liverpool can rely on Thiago Alcantara to dictate the tempo of a game, with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson doing the dirty work to win the ball back.

Meanwhile, Paul Pogba’s work rate at United has been questionable, whereas Fred and Scott McTominay have failed to prove that they are good enough to get the side competing against the best in the league.

As a result, opposition teams have consistently been able to get at United’s back four this season, with the midfield getting bypassed far too easily.

Ten Hag will need to fix this issue, so that United can get more control in games. De Jong will not be able to do it all on his own, but he is an experienced player at the base of the midfield, and bringing him in could ensure that the team is better balanced next season, which would give them a good chance of moving back up the table.

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