Ten Hag outlines what Man Utd must do in Champions League quest
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The Glazer family almost smashed Manchester United’s transfer record last month to give Erik ten Hag a marquee signing as their final act in the transfer market at Old Trafford, according to reports. The unpopular Americans put the Red Devils up for sale towards the end of last year and are currently pressing ahead with the process of finding a buyer through the Raine Group, who have been recruited to oversee the transition to a new ownership model.
United did not spend a great deal of money on new players in the January transfer window, with nominal loan fees being paid to secure the services of goalkeeper Jack Butland and striker Wout Weghorst until the end of the season. It could have ended up very differently for Ten Hag if the Glazers had managed to get their way, though, after agreeing a nine-figure deal to sign Dusan Vlahovic before the proposed move fizzled out.
That’s according to AS, who claim that United had an agreement in place to land Vlahovic from Juventus to the tune of £106million before opting to sign Weghorst on a half-season loan from Burnley. Vlahovic has long been linked with a move to the Premier League and was reportedly targeted by United last month, with a lucrative agreement being reached before the deal was blocked by the player’s agent.
It is said that everything was done and dusted in negotiations to see Vlahovic join the Red Devils before his agent stepped in to deny the move, sending United back to square one in their search for a new striker to replace Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the pitch. They went on to finalise the capture of Weghorst from Burnley on a temporary basis but are expected to make a higher-profile signing in the position before the start of next season under the guidance of their new owners.
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A number of formal bids were submitted before the Glazer-imposed deadline on Friday evening, with investment groups from Qatar and Saudi Arabia believed to be among those looking to buy United in the not-too-distant future. Ineos chief Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a boyhood Red Devils fan, is also believed to be in the running after enlisting the services of American banks JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs to advise on the process from his point of view.
The Qatari bid is said to be the early frontrunner as things stand in spite of a potential conflict of interest in the Champions League as a result of the Gulf state’s involvement with Paris Saint-Germain, who have been wholly owned by Qatar Sports Investments since 2012. It remains to be seen how the situation at Old Trafford will eventually play out, though, with the Red Devils expected to be under the control of new custodians by the start of next season at the very latest.
United would certainly be poised to reap the rewards of large-scale investment brought on by a change in ownership as they look to return to Europe’s footballing elite under the guidance of Erik ten Hag over the next few years. The Dutchman has already acknowledged that cash is king and recently sent a message to any potential new owners by highlighting the importance of spending power after a relatively quiet January transfer window by United’s standards.
“For a long time I think the Premier League was always a two-horse race, but now I think it’s a six, seven, eight-horse race,” said Ten Hag earlier this month. “It’s about strategy but also, of course, it’s about finance. I am here to manage the team, to get the best out of them, and of course I have a job in bringing the right players in.”
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