Erik ten Hag reportedly has an agreement in place with Ajax that will allow him to leave the club this summer if Manchester United make an official approach.
The Premier League side are expected to appoint a permanent manager to take over from interim coach Ralf Rangnick after the end of the season.
Ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino are widely reported to be the two main candidates for the role, with Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and Spain coach Luis Enrique also linked to the post.
But Rangnick is thought to favour the appointment of a progressive coach like Ten Hag with a track record of winning trophies. The 52-year-old has overseen two Eredivisie titles in his four years with the Amsterdam outfit, and is on course to add a third this season.
As a contrast, United confirmed they would be finishing the campaign without a trophy for a fifth consecutive season after their exit from the Champions League at the hands of Atletico Madrid. It promises to be a summer of transition for the Red Devils, with Rangnick moving upstairs into a consultancy role and Richard Arnold replacing Ed Woodward as United’s all-reigning supremo.
Their first choice will be to decide between Ten Hag and Pochettino. But given the sheer compensation costs that it would take to lure Pochettino away from Paris Saint-Germain, it seems that the former is becoming the more obvious choice — and United have received a boost in their pursuit of the ex-Utrecht coach.
According to Dutch journalist Mike Verweij, Ten Hag struck ‘an agreement’ with sporting director Marc Overmars which would free him to leave the club if he were to receive a tempting offer. However, the latter left the club in January after it was found he had sent “inappropriate messages to female colleagues over an extended period of time”, the club confirmed.
Despite Overmars’ departure, it is believed that Ten Hag’s agreement will be fulfilled by CEO Edwin van der Sar. That will prove to be a huge boost for United if they are to target the Dutchman as their first choice to succeed Rangnick.
Vermeij has also claimed that, as expected, assistant coach Mitchell van der Gragg would follow Ten Hag to Old Trafford if he decides to take the job. However, he would not insist on taking his entire backroom staff with him, suggesting he may be willing to work alongside the current staff at Carrington.
Ten Hag refused to be drawn on speculation linking him with Man United, insisting he is focusing on his job at hand at Ajax and guiding the Dutch giants to the title after their Champions League exit at the hands of Benfica. “I am now working with Ajax. That’s what I’m fully concentrating on now,” he said, as quoted by RTL Nieuws.
“But as a manager I am already working on our team for the future. I am also mainly focusing on the present. The road in the Champions League is closed after our defeat against Benfica. But there are still two roads completely open.”