Ten Hag leaks potential first summer signing, with Man Utd striker chase taking unexpected turn
Erik ten Hag strongly hinted at which striker will become the first Man Utd signing this summer, though a second centre-forward is likely to arrive too.
Manchester United’s hand was forced during the winter window following Cristiano Ronaldo’s premature exit. The Red Devils were heavily linked with Cody Gakpo, though elected to keep their powder dry when it came to forking out sizeable fees.
Instead, United moved for Burnley’s Wout Weghorst once an agreement to terminate his loan at Besiktas was reached. The Dutch international joined on a six-month loan that does not contain an option to buy.
Weghorst has divided opinion since arriving in Manchester. While his all-action displays, versatility and willingness to press have earned Ten Hag’s trust, his lack of goals is a sore spot that cannot be ignored.
Indeed, Dutch legend Ruud Gullit recently insisted Weghorst is simply not good enough for Man Utd. A return of just two goals and two assists in 18 appearances suggest he has a point.
However, when speaking to reporters ahead of Man Utd’s clash with Newcastle on Sunday, Ten Hag strongly hinted a permanent move for Weghorst will be explored this summer.
When asked about the idea of Weghorst being a United player beyond his current loan deal, Ten Hag said (via Goal): “Of course.
“I think he is doing a lot of elements of football really well. He is doing a really good job for us in pressing, so he is the leader of the process in pressing. He starts the press and he is very good in the backward pressing.
“He is taking other positions and his link-up play, he is doing really well. He creates movements and makes good movements. He is also good in the set plays.
“He is really contributing to the performance of this team after Christmas, we played 25 games and we lost two games.
“So you can see and he played nearly almost all those games. He was really a part of that success.'”
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Ten Hag on Man Utd’s summer plans
It’s no secret United are in the market for a brand new centre-forward this summer. However, Weghorst’s potential arrival will not detract from the true prize.
Indeed, Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen are in United’s sights as they go in search of a player capable of firing them to top honours. If both those players prove unattainable, the likes of Goncalo Ramos, Mohammed Kudus and Randal Kolo Muani are alternatives.
As such, Weghorst would likely be signed as well as – not instead of – a higher profile target. However, he’ll seemingly have to be willing to accept a bench role if a move to Old Trafford does go through.
On the subject of United’s summer plans, Ten Hag admitted securing Champions League football will be key to luring the calibre of target they crave.
“Of course we are more interesting when we are in the Champions League,” he said.
“I think even when we’re not, we are still attractive for players. I have noticed that also last year when we were not in the Champions League.
“But I want to make my point clear: we have to be in the Champions League. A club like Manchester United has to act in the Champions League, so there’s no misunderstanding.”
United can take a giant step towards achieving that aim by defeating Newcastle later today. The clash at St. James’ Park will kick off at 4:30pm UK time.
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