Erik ten Hag has a massive rebuilding job on his hands at Manchester United – and he may well look to the Eredivisie when making new signings in the summer.
Ten Hag, who is currently in charge of Ajax, has spent the majority of his coaching career in the Netherlands and has an extensive knowledge of players in the Eredivisie.
While United are reportedly wary of signing Eredivisie-based players due to the struggles of Memphis Depay and Donny van de Beek, the manager will have the final say on any transfers.
We’ve taken a look at five Eredivisie players that Ten Hag could try and bring to Old Trafford in the summer. Note: we’ve not included Ryan Gravenberch or Noussair Mazraoui, who have been linked with United but look set to join Bayern Munich on free transfers.
Despite giving Borussia Dortmund £73million for Jadon Sancho last summer, United are still looking for the solution to their right-wing problem.
Alongside Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, Sancho’s best performances in a United shirt have come from the left flank.
Ten Hag reportedly wants to fill United’s right-wing void with Antony, who has spent the last two seasons at Ajax and is valued at around £50million.
The 22-year-old Brazil international has been in brilliant form for Ajax throughout 2021-22, registering 12 goals and 10 assists in 33 appearances in all competitions.
He would likely be a fan favourite at Old Trafford owing to his excellent dribbling ability and could help United unlock Premier League defences.
“We all miss him,” Ten Hag said in April 2022 after Antony spent a few weeks on the sidelines. “Without Antony, it is all a bit less fast and dynamic on the right, which also makes it more difficult for the team. Then the spaces become a lot smaller.”
Ten Hag and Gakpo have been on opposing sides for the last four years but that could be about to change.
Gakpo made his senior PSV Eindhoven debut in 2018 and has since developed into one of the most exciting and dangerous forwards in Europe.
The Netherlands international can play as a centre-forward but mainly operates as a winger and would give United another goal threat from out wide.
He’s currently enjoying his best-ever season on an individual level and has registered 34 direct goal contributions, including the winner against Ten Hag’s Ajax in the KNVB Cup final.
“You have to defend much better, you can never let Gakpo come in, that’s where his qualities lie,” Ten Hag said after the game. “There are two people standing by, you have to keep him on the left.”
But Ten Hag will have to act quickly if he wants to bring Gakpo to Old Trafford as the 22-year-old has also been linked with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Cody Gakpo's winner vs Ajax in the Dutch Cup Final pic.twitter.com/eio6DRaieg
— Marc P. Lamberts (@lambertsmarc) April 18, 2022
The second Ajax player to feature on this list, Timber has thrived under Ten Hag’s leadership and could follow the manager to Old Trafford.
“Ten Hag has been very important to me personally,” the 20-year-old said recently. “Under him, I became the footballer, the man I am today. The coach talked to me a lot. He’s been very critical, in a good, constructive way. I won’t forget that anytime soon.”
He’s regarded as one of Europe’s most sought-after defenders and has enjoyed a brilliant season at Ajax, registering 25 clean sheets in 41 appearances across all competitions in 2021-22.
The centre-back, who can also cover at right-back, has been compared to fellow Ajax academy graduate Matthijs de Ligt and is renowned for his ability on the ball.
United have conceded 52 goals in 36 Premier League games this season but Ten Hag reportedly believes that Timber can fix their defensive concerns.
The Netherlands international could be signed as a direct replacement for Harry Maguire, who has been heavily criticised for his poor performances in recent months.
While Luke Shaw enjoyed a brilliant 2020-21 at club and international level, his form has dropped off significantly this season.
According to the Daily Mirror, Ten Hag believes that left-back is another problem area for United and has identified Feyenoord’s Tyrell Malacia.
Ten Hag tried to bring the 22-year-old to Ajax last summer but Feyenoord resisted the move because of the rivalry between the two sides.
Malacia likes to drive forward with his blistering pace and provide an attacking outlet, but he is also renowned for his tenacious defending.
“Every winger will have a headache the night before playing against Malacia,” former Feyenoord manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst said. “He is quick, agile and [has] a great work ethic.”
United reportedly sent scouts to watch the left-back during Feyenoord’s recent 3-2 victory over Marseille and they could be able to sign him for a fee in the region of £20million.
With Nemanja Matic set to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season, United are in desperate need of a new central defensive midfielder.
The Red Devils have been heavily linked with Declan Rice but West Ham’s £150million asking price will be a major stumbling block.
United may have to look for cheaper alternatives and would only need to spend around £30million to sign Sangare from PSV Eindhoven.
The Ivory Coast international, who is reportedly attracting interest from Leicester City, has been one of PSV’s best and most consistent performers in 2021-22.
He helps shield their defence and has averaged 3.5 tackles and 2.6 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Eredivisie this season.