Erik ten Hag has a £72.9m problem to solve at Manchester United this summer
Despite hurtling towards this summer’s transfer window with the intention of strengthening their attacking options, it is through the middle where Manchester United have got work to do.
After investing in a big-money winger in each of the last two summers, it is a big-money striker that the club is in desperate need of recruiting this time around. United have struggled for goals this season and desperately need to increase their attacking output with the addition of a world-class No.9.
Tottenham Hotspur ace Harry Kane has been earmarked as Erik ten Hag’s top target while Victor Osimhen of Napoli is still on their radar. Whoever the Reds eventually settle on trying to sign, though, they know that it will require a big chunk of their transfer budget.
READ MORE: United get triple injury boost ahead of Bournemouth clash
With the exception of Marcus Rashfordnobody within United’s current crop of attackers has stepped forward and proven themselves to be a reliable source of goals this season. Between them, Anthony Martial, Alexander Garnacho and Antony have just 21 goals in all competitions.
For a club with aspirations of launching a genuine title charge next season, it is not enough. United would have hoped that they would have been able to rely on Jadon Sancho’s exploits in front of goal, too, but he has experienced another underwhelming season.
Snapped up for £72.9million from Borussia Dortmund in July 2021, the winger has failed to live up to expectations in United colours so far, scoring just 11 goals and grabbing five assists in 75 appearances. He was a star in the making in Germany but is now threatening to become one of the Premier League’s biggest-ever flops, such is the size of the fee that the Reds paid for him.
After losing confidence and failing to impose himself on proceedings in the first couple of months of the season, Sancho, under Ten Hag’s orders, went to the Netherlands during the World Cup break to work on an individual training programme with coaches recommended to him by the United manager. After being absent since late October, Sancho made his highly-anticipated return on February 1, stepping off the bench as a second-half substitute during the Reds’ 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final triumph at Old Trafford.
As he waited patiently to step onto the field to replace Antony with just over an hour played, Ten Hag beamed proudly. It was one of the most heart-warming moments of the season.
It felt as though it was going to mark the beginning of a new dawn in Sancho’s United career and the near-£73million signing was about to be unleashed once and for all. Though he has needed time to get back up to speed, it was nothing more than a false dawn for the 23-year-old, unfortunately.
He has made 23 appearances since his February return, scoring three goals. Those 23 outings have been made up of a mixture of both starts and cameo appearances, as well as being deployed in three different positions, those being on the right wing, the left wing and through the middle as a No.10.
That lack of continuity has stopped Sancho from getting into any sort of rhythm to try and get himself back on track. He was originally signed to solve United’s long-term right-wing problems but has ended up producing his best football for the club on the left.
But with Rashford having excelled on the left this season and Ten Hag insistent on Antony being his first-choice right-winger, it has meant Sancho’s hopes of nailing down either of those two roles as a regular starter have been blocked. Though Antony is still adapting to life in England, Ten Hag is going to persevere with his £85.5m pet project, particularly after being so insistent on adding him to his squad last summer.
It means Sancho finds himself in limbo, flittering between both the right and the left, operating as a backup option to both Rashford and Antony in the main. But to make matters worse for him, Garnacho is now on an upward trajectory and, in the eyes of many, is now ahead of the former Dortmund man in the pecking order.
Garnacho, though, is more suited to playing on the left and could be now considered as Rashford’s deputy. That means Sancho could be tasked with being Antony’s equivalent.
You then throw the returning Amad into the equation and he is another rival for Sancho to challenge for the shirt. Originally signed to become the face of United’s right wing for years, he now faces uncertainty over his role, both in the starting XI and the squad.
Somehow, Ten Hag has got to find a way to keep him happy, though it is also down to Sancho to prove his worth.
#Erik #ten #Hag #72.9m #problem #solve #Manchester #United #summer, 1684388690
Leave a Comment