5 gone, 6 to sell, 4 to buy: Erik ten Hag’s transfer masterplan for Manchester United

Man United are set for a busy summer with several outgoings and incomings expected ahead of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign.

The process has already started with Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard due to leave on free transfers next month.

With their departures, United will save around £46.5 million in annual wages. The first-team squad could be trimmed further as part of the rebuild.

New United manager Erik ten Hag is reportedly happy to work with a lean squad next season with the focus on more character, leadership and cohesion.

Who could United sell this summer?

It is quite clear that United are looking to reinforce a couple of key positions in their defence. A new central defender and right-back could be among the priorities for Ten Hag this summer.

This could coincide with a few departures. Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe appear the first in line to head for the exit door with the decision made to sell them, as per Fabrizio Romano.

Alongside the duo, Phil Jones could end his decade-long stay at the club. The centre-back has already dropped a hint that he could pursue a fresh challenge in the quest for regular football.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is another defender, who could be on his way out. Ten Hag has reportedly made the decision to keep Diogo Dalot. Wan-Bissaka could make way for a new right-back.

Apart from the quartet, Anthony Martial’s future with United seems to be uncertain. His more languid style of play may not go well with Ten Hag, who gives preference to high work rate.

The attacker was a regular on the bench during his short stint under Ralf Rangnick before being loaned out in January. We don’t see him settling for a similar role under the new head coach.

Dean Henderson could likewise push for a new challenge, having played second fiddle to goalkeeper David de Gea. The latter seems unlikely to be displaced after a fantastic individual season.

United are reluctant to lose Henderson without a replacement. Karl Darlow and Daniel Bachmann are being considered by the club, but promoting Tom Heaton as the number two has not been ruled out.

Four potential transfer targets for United

Since the arrival of Ten Hag, there has been plenty of speculation linking the club with Ajax players. Among them, centre-back Jurrien Timber has been frequently linked over the past three weeks.

Ten Hag played a key role in his development at the Eredivisie outfit over the last two years, and a reunion could be on the cards this summer, provided he is guaranteed regular playing time.

Aside from a central defender, a new right-back could be prioritised after Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot failed to register a single goal contribution (goal or an assist) over the entire 2021/22 season.

RB Leipzig’s Nordi Mukiele has been touted as a possible target. The Frenchman, who can also play as a central defender, managed seven goal involvements for the Bundesliga outfit last term.

With his contract expiring in 12 months’ time, he could be available for as little as €10 million. Rangnick apparently recommended him. United could pursue his services regardless of the German’s exit.

Meanwhile, a defensive midfielder and striker are also expected to be signed. Scott McTominay and Fred impressed in phases last term, but neither were consistent enough with their midfield displays.

Fred’s creative presence during the backend of last season could see him play a key role under Ten Hag, but the Brazilian needs better defensive cover than what McTominay has offered in recent years.

Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong appears the prime target for now. The Dutchman is hesitant to leave Barcelona and also prefers to play in the Champions League. United still seem intent on landing him.

If the door opens for a transfer, the Red Devils appear front-runners. They are optimistic of taking advantage of Barcelona’s financial concerns to sign De Jong, who possesses excellent ball control and distribution.

In recent weeks, there has been only one striker in Darwin Nunez linked with the club. He has opened the door to joining Ten Hag’s revolution at Old Trafford despite the lack of Champions League football.

However, a deal may not be straightforward. They need to convince Benfica with their transfer proposal. The Portuguese side are eyeing €105m for Nunez, but United have reportedly offered €75m up front.

With a 20 per cent sell-on fee owed to Almeria, Benfica seem reluctant to accept United’s opening proposal that includes €20m in add-ons and Andreas Pereira joining them on loan. A better proposal is required to convince them.