With Erik ten Hag confirmed as the next manager of Manchester United, The Hard Tackle takes a look at three players he should bring along with him from Ajax.

After weeks of rumours and speculations, Manchester United finally announced that Erik ten Hag will take over as their next permanent manager. The 52-year-old AFC Ajax head coach had been linked with the Red Devils for a while now, along with several other names like Mauricio Pochettino, Carlo Ancelotti and Luis Enrique.

But over the past couple of weeks, it had become clear that Manchester United were leaning towards ten Hag, which was understandable given his body of work at Ajax. He has been in charge of the team for almost four and a half years now and has won two Eredivisie titles, two Dutch Cups and a Dutch Super Cup as well.

Ten Hag has built a youthful team known for its exuberant, attacking style of play. Even though there have been major departures from the squad year after year – Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek to name a few – he has been able to ensure their exits have not affected the team, getting the best out of young talent coming through the ranks while also utilising experienced individuals like Daley Blind and Dusan Tadic.

Known for his attention to the minutest of the details, ten Hag’s appointment bodes well for Manchester United, who have been left behind by their rivals like Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. As is the case with most managers arriving at new clubs, there is always the chance of them raiding their former employers to bring some new players along with them.

The Hard Tackle now takes a look at three players who ten Hag should sign from Ajax in the summer transfer window as he goes about the gargantuan task of rebuilding a Manchester United team that are in shambles.

Antony

The first name on the list is a player that has already been linked quite a fair bit with Manchester United ever since the speculations of Erik ten Hag taking over started doing the rounds. Indeed, we are talking about Ajax’s Brazilian speedster Antony who has been carving out quite the reputation for himself in Europe.

Signed from Sao Paulo FC in 2020, the 22-year-old has quickly become a star player for the Eredivisie champions, impressing onlookers with his speed, directness and the Brazilian flair that he brings to the table. After enjoying a decent debut campaign, Antony has stepped his game up a notch this term, bettering his goal and assist tally already, having made 22 goal contributions (12 goals, 10 assists).

While Manchester United signed Jadon Sancho last year, he has taken his time to get going at Old Trafford. With the likes of Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Anthony Martial set to depart and question marks surrounding the future of Marcus Rashford, there is space for another wide attacker to come into the side and add a bit more spark and panache.

With Sancho looking more at home on the left flank, Antony could be Manchester United’s solution on the right wing, a position that has been a problem for the faltering Premier League giants for years now. However, they might need to shell out over £50 million to sign him.

Ryan Gravenberch

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Another player who has been on the radars of Manchester United for a while, Ryan Gravenberch is set to be a man in demand in the summer transfer window, not only because of the potential he has shown but also due to his contract situation. The 19-year-old has quickly developed into one of the most sought-after young midfielders in Europe. With his current deal with Ajax expiring in 2023, an exit looks imminent.

A product of the club’s youth academy, Gravenberch was handed his first-team bow at the club Erik ten Hag himself, under whose careful guidance the teenage prodigy has blossomed in Amsterdam. A midfielder with tremendous potential, the Dutchman is capable of operating as a No. 6 or as a No. 8 and has the skillset to make a difference to the team from both positions.

Manchester United’s midfield department has not been performing up to the scratch despite boasting names like Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Fred, all of whom were signed for significant fees. Among them, Pogba would be departing at the end of the season, whereas Nemanja Matic is also on his way out. So, the Red Devils need at least two new midfielders to add more quality and depth to the roster.

Gravenberch can be a wise addition in that regard, considering ten Hag knows inside out what the youngster is all about and has been able to extract the best out of him so far. However, Bayern Munich are already working hard to get the Dutch international, and Manchester United will have their task cut out to hijack the deal.

Sebastien Haller

The final name on the list is not a player linked with Manchester United but has been touted as a target for their arch-rivals Liverpool in Ajax striker Sebastien Haller. The 27-year-old is not a stranger to Premier League fans, thanks to his torrid stint at West Ham United but has enjoyed a stunning resurgence since moving to Ajax in January last year.

Indeed, Haller endured a forgettable 18-month stint at West Ham, during which he played 48 Premier League games and scored just ten goals. But the turnaround in fortunes he has experienced since his transfer to Ajax in the 2021 winter window has been remarkable. The French-Ivorian striker has struck 46 goals in just 61 matches for the Dutch giants, with 33 of those coming in the ongoing campaign.

One-third of Haller’s goals in the 2021/22 season have come in the UEFA Champions League from only eight games, showing his pedigree on the continental stages. The striker has acknowledged that ten Hag’s influence has been key to his exceptional rise over the past 15 months. The pair had worked together previously at FC Utrecht before joining forces at Ajax, and a reunion at Manchester United could be an enticing prospect.

Edinson Cavani will leave Old Trafford at the end of the season, while question marks linger over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future as well. So, a new striker is very much a necessary addition come summer, and Haller can be worth taking a punt. Ten Hag has shown that he can get the best out of the striker and can set the team up to play to his strengths, while the player himself will have a point to prove after his failed stint at West Ham.

One Response to “Three Ajax players that Erik ten Hag should sign at Manchester United | THT Opinions”

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  1. Bill Heijnen says:

    as a Ajax fan all my life , it is sad to see the very good players go .It is so hard to keep them for years and build a team of champions .I know Ajax has a conveyer belt with talented players but then the big money teams are in line to get them as well I wish Eric the best and whoever from Ajax goes with him

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