sport news Manchester United's summer buys predicted as the great Erik Ten Hag rebuild ... trends now
There's nothing extraordinary about the Old Trafford club being linked with pretty much everyone on the market but this summer promises to be more frantic than ever.
Not only is Ten Hag a new manager coming in but the Dutchman is being expected to oversee a thorough overhaul of a United squad who have completely failed to perform this season.
Erik ten Hag has waved goodbye to Ajax and has started work as Manchester United manager
Paul Pogba (left) and Jesse Lingard (right) are among the Man United players set to leave
They could yet finish seventh in the Premier League, meaning Ten Hag's first season will be spent slogging through the Europa Conference League, but that's really the least of their worries.
A number of players - including Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata - will depart over the summer and it's clear from performances this season that United need improvement in about five different areas.
Ten Hag should realise that central/defensive midfield, central defence and right-back are the priority areas and he has been promised transfer funds to start building United in his image.
The transfer window in England opens on June 10 and we run the rule over United's potential targets and the likelihood of a move actually happening.
It's been a season of serious underachievement at Old Trafford despite Ronaldo's return
FRENKIE DE JONG
The thought of the talented Dutch midfielder being reunited with Ten Hag, his erstwhile coach at Ajax, is a nice one.
De Jong would clearly be an upgrade on their current midfield options and knows the style Ten Hag will play. He could sit alongside Bruno Fernandes in a double creative pivot behind Cristiano Ronaldo, or play deeper.
But, as Sportsmail reported on Wednesday night, United are unwilling to break the bank on a player Barcelona want £70million for, having themselves paid £65m for De Jong back in 2019.
Ten Hag knows Frenkie de Jong well but Barcelona's £70m price tag is prohibitive for United
A compromise is a long way off as it stands and De Jong, 25, would either prefer to stay at the Nou Camp or move to a Champions League club. United most certainly won't be offering that next season.
What's more, with United missing out on Champions League football, there will be a knock-on effect when it comes to the money Ten Hag is handed to spend.
Going for De Jong would probably blow all of that and address only one of United's problem areas. The prospect of this move happening seems to be receding.
Likelihood rating: 5/10
There's probably an inevitability that Ten Hag will raid the club he's just departed for a talent or two this summer.
With United in urgent need of a central defender to either support or replace Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane, they have been heavily linked with Ajax's 20-year-old Jurrien Timber.
He was awarded the Ajax 'Talent of the Year' award at the end of the season and made 43 appearances in a title-winning campaign, proving that he has Ten Hag's trust.
A raid on Ajax for talented young defender Jurrien Timber is a likely move this summer
Timber is fast across the ground, which means he could compensate for Maguire's lack of speed, and has good positional sense. As a young player, there's also plenty of scope for improvement in the years ahead.
Ajax would apparently want £35m for Timber, which could prove to be excellent value. Ten Hag knows the player inside out, so it would be up to him to decide whether he can cut it in English football.
Many United fans on social media are already clamouring for the club to sign Timber and it's certainly one of the likelier moves.
Likelihood rating: 8/10
Failing that, Ten Hag could simply move a little further down the Ajax squad list and go for Argentine centre-back Lisandro Martinez.
The 24-year-old has just been named Ajax Player of the Year and has amassed Champions League experience in the past three years in Amsterdam.
Martinez also comes with the added advantage of being able to play not only centre-half but also at left-back, which would offer a back-up option to Luke Shaw.
Lisandro Martinez with his Ajax player of the year award following their final home fixture
He's also au fait with Ten Hag's systems, whether that be three or four in defence and would cost less than Timber at around £25m.
Given how poorly United's defenders have played this season, Martinez would surely offer an upgrade on most of their current options and certainly Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones, who may leave.
He could represent a good back-up option if Ten Hag can't prise Timber from his old club but they probably wouldn't sign both.
Likelihood rating: 7/10
The centre forward position is an interesting one. United will need one because Edinson Cavani is leaving but we all know that Cristiano Ronaldo is going to play there if he stays at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag may adopt a forward pairing but really any signing will be playing second fiddle to the 37-year-old for at least the first year.
That role may suit someone like Darwin Nunez, who has 34 goals for Benfica this season, as it would allow time to settle into English football.
Darwin Nunez is fast acquiring a reputation as one of Europe's most prolific goalscorers
At 22, the Uruguayan will have plenty of seasons ahead of him and would certainly profit from being under Ronaldo's tutelage.
Nunez is certainly a United target but the cost could prove prohibitive. Benfica are asking for at least £50m and Portuguese newspapers are saying this has been raised to £80m amid interest from other European clubs.
That second figure would surely prove too much. Manchester City have just signed Erling Haaland, one of the world's best forwards, for £51m, for example.
You suspect United won't have that kind of budget this summer given there are more pressing issues to address.
Likelihood rating: 6/10
That's where someone like Paulo Dybala, out of contract at Juventus and available on a free, may come in.
The Argentine, who has scored 115 goals in 292 games for Juventus over seven seasons, has said his farewells in Turin and is in demand from Tottenham, Roma and others as well as reportedly being on United's radar.
Paulo Dybala is thrown in the air by team-mates after playing his final home game for Juventus
While Dybala has an understanding of how to play alongside Ronaldo from their time together at Juventus, he may not wish to be overshadowed by the Portuguese star once again.
Dybala, 28, is a proven goalscorer at the top level and whoever gets him for nothing could well have themselves a bargain. United could do a lot worse but will face stiff competition.
Likelihood rating: 7/10
The England midfielder has been linked with United for some time and would solve the long-standing issue in defensive midfield.
Several transfer windows have passed without the club addressing this but with Matic