Erik ten Hag to stick with Man Utd duo as first-choice centre-back partnership

Erik ten Hag has a number of issues facing him this summer as he takes on his first pre-season in charge of Manchester United, with the first group returning for the preparations on June 27.

Improving his side’s midfield will be his first priority this summer, with Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong and Brentford star Christian Eriksen among the targets.

The defence is also an area of concern, however, with the past season accounting for Manchester United’s worst-ever defensive record. The side conceded 57 goals throughout the season, the most the club has ever conceded in one Premier League season.

Harry Maguire, the club captain, and last summer’s big defensive reinforcement, Raphael Varane, both struggled this season but according to reports, Ten Hag believes he can help both players.

Read more: Man Utd and Barcelona remain €10-15m apart in Frenkie de Jong valuations

That’s according to The Guardian, who add that Maguire and Varane are his first-choice partnership, with the manager also happy to keep Victor Lindelof as competition to the pair.

Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are all on the periphery at United, and in the event that any of the three outcast defenders leave, Ten Hag will be offered the freedom to strengthen that area.

SN’s verdict…
Adding bodies to United’s midfield is paramount this summer, whereas strengthening the defence might not be as big of a priority. United are bloated in that department and departures will be needed before anyone can be signed.

Ajax defender Jurrien Timber is among the players to have been linked with a move but it’s fair to assume that United are unlikely to place focus on that until their midfield targets have been landed.

Furthermore, Ten Hag is not working with an unlimited budget and will be aware of the restraints facing the club this summer, with United losing out on Champions League revenue for the first time since 2019.

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