Manchester United appointed Erik ten Hag as their next permanent manager earlier this week.
The Dutchman is set to take charge of the club at the close of this season and, as evidenced by recent results, is facing a pretty mammoth task.
Ralf Rangnick recently suggested that Manchester United need six to 10 players to rebuild their squad. And though such a number of signings is unrealistic for one window, it is clear that Man United need to bring in at least a few players to help revitalise the club’s ranks.
The likes of Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard will be leaving for free. And though the failure to secure fees for such players is a blow, their exits should free up a tidy amount on the wage budget.
Anthony Martial could also be sold along with a few more fringe stars to bring in some funds. But who will ten Hag and co. bring in to replace this crop of players?
Well, 101 have drawn up a starting line-up which ten Hag could use after what would likely be classed as a fairly successful summer.
Starting in defence, it is clear that David de Gea does not have the ability on the ball to fit ten Hag’s style, whilst Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles have proven their lack of ability at the top level.
However, United are unlikely to be able to sign a new player for each position.
So, given Harry Maguire’s poor form, Raphael Varane’s injury woes and the fact that the rest of United’s centre-back options are average, it is clear the Red Devils must improve in this area.
One player they should look to target is Lisandro Martinez. The Argentine is currently playing under ten Hag at Ajax where he has both showcased his technical prowess with the ball and ability in the tackle – skills required by most modern defenders.
Martinez is also left-footed, meaning ten Hag would be able to partner the South American with one of right-footed pair Varane or Maguire.
And, of course, as he is already playing under ten Hag, Martinez should, in theory, not take long to adapt to United’s system under the Dutchman.
For many fans of the English game, the name ten Hag was likely first heard in the 2018/19 season when his Ajax side made it all the way to the Champions League semi-finals – seeing off Real Madrid and Juventus along the way.
A key reason that team was so successful was because of their midfield. Current Manchester United star Donny van de Beek made up a third of that midfield. And whilst he has struggled in England to date, it is anticipated that van de Beek will be given a new lease of life under ten Hag.
Elsewhere, Frenkie de Jong was used as a defensive midfielder by ten Hag at Ajax, with his displays in the 2018/19 campaign enough to earn him a big-money move to FC Barcelona.
De Jong has since endured a mixed stint at the Camp Nou, in part due to being deployed slightly further forward as Sergio Busquets occupies the more defensive role.
But, as Man United have no natural defensive midfield option apart from a primed-to-depart Nemanja Matic, ten Hag should look to bring De Jong to England and play him at the base of United’s midfield.
This leaves just one spot available and, although he has been a controversial figure at times, Fred has proven lately that he can excel when playing slightly further forward.
Of course, this leaves no room for Bruno Fernandes. But Man United still need to rotate and Fernandes could be utilized as both an 8 and maybe as a false-nine in ten Hag’s system, especially if the Manchester outfit are unable to bring in a decent no.9 this summer.
With Jesse Lingard leaving for free and Mason Greenwood no longer training with Manchester United, it is evident that the Red Devils need a new right-winger.
The obvious option is Antony. The Brazilian has electrifying pace, Champions League experience and is proven under ten Hag.
This would see Jadon Sancho moved to his favoured left-wing role, leaving just the centre-forward spot up for grabs.
And whilst United do need a no.9, signing a defensive midfielder is a more pressing issue right now and likely to be where most of their money goes this summer.
So, though not an ideal situation, ten Hag may have to rotate between Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford in 2022/23.
Check out our potential Manchester United XI below: