Manchester United are firmly on the right course under Erik ten Hag with one observer naming the one signing they need to make if they are to become Premier League title contenders once again.
The Red Devils turned to the Dutchman over the summer following a disappointing campaign last time out. Indeed, with United finishing a lowly sixth, the club allowed Ten Hag to sign six new players costing well in excess of £200m.
And the early signs have been good. After bouncing back from two defeats in their first two Premier League games, United have since put Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham to the sword. And it is evidentally clear that Ten Hag’s influence is beginning to have an impact.
Indeed, a win over Aston Villa could see United climb to into the top four for the first time since Ten Hag’s appointment. And that would represent a real sign of their progress, despite Jamie Carragher’s prediction that disappointment awaits come the end of the season.
Now the next phase of United’s rebuilding is already underway with plans afoot for the January window. United are reportedly chasing a new right-back with Sunday’s Transfer Gossip revealing a firm decision over Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s future.
As well as a new right-back, United are also giving serious thoughts to their goalkeeper plans. David De Gea’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season, though United do hold a one-year option on that deal.
And it comes as no surprise to see them links towards Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa growing by the week.
Hasselbaink calls on Man Utd to sign new striker
However, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, while praising the job Ten Hag has done, reckons a new 20-goal a season striker has to be their next transfer priority.
And, in comparing Ten Hag’s personality to both Jose Mourinho – the last United manager to win a trophy – and Sir Alex Ferguson, Hasselbaink reckons the club are on the right path.
Speaking to the Daily Express, the former Leeds and Chelsea man said: “I think it’s too soon [for United to be title challengers]. I think [Ten Hag] will get it right [but] I think he will need a few more transfer windows.
“He’s got a clear idea of how he wants to play and what I do like is it is his way, and it doesn’t matter who you are, but you follow, or you’re out. All big managers had that – Ferguson had that, Mourinho had that. It’s their way.
“They’re more solid at the back, even though I don’t think they are the finished article yet. What they really do well is they work really hard at the front to stop having to defend a lot at the back. I still think that in the midfield, they need to do a lot.”
Asked where they should prioritise next, he added: “They need a big striker or a striker that doesn’t need to be big but somebody that is going to be scoring 20-plus goals.
“But they’re going in the right direction. They’re going in the right direction. They are playing quite attractive football, or they’re trying. They’re controlling the ball a lot more than in previous years – [that’s] what they couldn’t do. Yeah, they didn’t do that. And they’re doing that more, but they’re still far off from challenging Man City.”
United will be looking for Ronaldo replacement
Finding a long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo will be very much in United’s thinking going forwards. The veteran Portuguese star pushed to leave over the summer and it remains a feasible a departure could still happen in the winter window.
To that end, our exclusive revealed that a possible route to one of his former clubs remains a distinct possibility in January.
Long term, though, United’s future will not include Ronaldo. Ten Hag has been preparing his side for life without him already by helping Marcus Rashford return to his best form. And while Ten Hag has hinted that Ronaldo can continue to stay involved, they are already targeting potential replacements over the long term.
READ MORE: Man Utd plotting ultimate transfer hijack to give Ten Hag frightening Ronaldo successor
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