Man Utd: Erik ten Hag has already named target ‘one of Europe’s best’ as deal ‘green-lit’ | Football | Sport

Manchester United are being operated by an entirely new recruitment team this summer, led by Omar Berrada, Dan Ashworth and Jason Wilcox. Still, the club’s first signing of the INEOS era could very blatantly be an Erik ten Hag one. Matthijs de Ligt appears to be edging closer to a long-linked switch to Old Trafford.

United are expected to recruit a new centre-back, central midfielder and striker in the coming weeks in line with a fresh transfer policy overseen by Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

And De Ligt has emerged as a somewhat surprising leading candidate to act as a long-term replacement for now-free agent Raphael Varane.

According to Fabrizio Romano, United are the only club to which the 24-year-old has given the green light over a summer move.

Negotiations are said to be ongoing with Bayern Munich over the structure of a deal for De Ligt, who has a long history with Ten Hag.

He was a crucial cog in Ten Hag’s sensational Ajax side that won the hearts of Europe during the 2018/19 season – and the Dutch Eredivisie and KNVB Cup.

De Ligt, Andre Onana, Frenkie de Jong and other prominent names also reached the Champions League semi-finals before the sharks circled and the talent dispersed.

Ten Hag rated De Ligt so highly that he named him Ajax captain at the age of 18 before, in 2019, he left for Juventus in a £72million deal.

Three years later, the Netherlands international joined Bayern for £68m, but things haven’t gone as we would’ve hoped at either giant.

His solution could be to move to a fourth country to join another, where this time, the coach responsible for his breakthrough in Amsterdam is waiting.

Bayern reportedly want at least £42m for De Ligt, which would represent a bargain if he meets the potential that Ten Hag once forecasted.

During their Ajax days, the 54-year-old hailed his defensive general as one of Europe’s best in his position.

And he confidently predicted that the then-teenager would go on to be the world’s best centre-back.

“I don’t know if De Ligt has shown 60 to 80 per cent of his potential [at Ajax],” Ten Hag said.

“But we are talking about one of the best defenders in Europe and I have no doubt that he will soon be number one in this position.”

Neither may have expected to reunite so soon, especially in Manchester, but INEOS sanctioning a transfer could be exactly what both Ten Hag and De Ligt need.

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