Ajax boss Erik ten Hag had a formal interview with Manchester United chiefs on Monday and is now the stand-out choice to take over as manager, according to reports.
The Red Devils’ hierarchy have been conducting a detailed and thorough search to find a permanent successor to interim boss Ralf Rangnick, with comprehensive background checks carried out on all the main contenders.
Ten Hag has long been one of the frontrunners, though he faced significant competition from Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino while Julen Lopetegui and Luis Enrique have also been on United’s shortlist.
Now the Daily Mail report that Ten Hag had his formal interview for the United job on Monday, with the Dutchman the heavy favourite to take over.
Ten Hag supposedly fluffed talks with Tottenham last summer and was described as lacking charisma, but he appears to have come through his United interview without any issues.
Ajax – who have a good relationship with United largely through their chief executive Edwin van der Sar – gave permission for the talks to happen and will not stand in his way.
United will still need to pay a compensation fee of around £4million, however, with Ten Hag contracted to the Dutch club until 2023, while his agent Kees Vos is notoriously formidable.
Following Ten Hag’s interview, Pochettino is increasingly resigned to missing out on the Old Trafford hotseat for a second time, with the Argentine’s camp now believing that the job is Ten Hag’s to lose.
But despite United speaking to Ten Hag, the club privately insist the process to find a new manager is not yet over and they still intend to interview the likes of Pochettino and Lopetegui.
Ten Hag certainly appears to have the upper hand, however, and United hope to complete the recruitment process before the end of April with an official announcement on their new manager coming shortly afterwards – giving the new man plenty of time to settle in before pre-season.
United are said to be attracted to the brand of football Ten Hag has played at Ajax, as well as his development of young players and ability to build fresh teams after star players have left, while his links to Pep Guardiola – the pair worked together at Bayern Munich – have not gone unnoticed either.
There had been suggestions United were interested in Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, but that is no longer considered a viable option and he will not be interviewed for the role.