Erik ten Hag admits Manchester United ‘need to act’ in transfer market

Erik ten Hag has denied there is any panic within Manchester United over recruitment but acknowledged the club “must act” with less than three weeks to go before the transfer window closes.

United have so far signed Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martínez and Tyrell Malacia, with the club hoping to sign Adrien Rabiot from Juventus. They also retain long-term interests in FC Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and Ajax’s Antony. A bid to buy Bologna’s Marko Arnautovic was abandoned on Tuesday after an £8m offer was rejected and significant backlash from United fans at news of the club’s interest in the former West Ham striker.

The moves for Rabiot as a possible alternative to De Jong and 33-year-old Arnautovic as another option for Antony have sparked a scrutiny of United’s acumen in the market. Ten Hag, whose first game in the Premier League as United manager on Sunday ended in defeat by Brighton, was asked if he sensed panic internally at the club.

“If Manchester United don’t perform, don’t win, that’s normal,” said the Dutchman before visiting Brentford on Saturday. “I would have more panic if there wasn’t panic because we have to win. That’s the requirement. Still, I would say panic isn’t the right word. It’s more like, ‘come on, we have to act’. We have to think smart and do the right things.”

Ten Hag was appointed as United’s new manager almost four months ago. The 52-year-old was asked if ‘disaster’ was an appropriate characterization of the club’s failure to sign the midfielder and striker they want during this period. “No,” Ten Hag insisted. “Of course I would prefer it because we could start the process earlier [making these signings]that’s very clear, but the season is long and you have to get the right players.”

Ten Hag was pressed as to why this didn’t happen. “That’s a difficult answer,” he replied. “If you have an hour then [I can]. It’s really complicated, but we’re very happy with what we’ve achieved so far. That was the positive point of last week and before. Tyrell Malacia did very well, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martínez both did very well against Brighton. We are very happy with that.

“Of course there are developments in the transfer market [that may cause compromises] But still we have to bring in the players who can contribute and not bring in players who can’t do what we want with the squad we have and then improve the team. We work well together [he and the executive] and it is to my satisfaction. [But] It was better to get the players earlier because now in the midfield and [attack] You saw that when we have an injury, we have a problem. That is clear.”

Anthony Martial’s hamstring problems rule him out of the trip to Brentford. However, Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to go after a shortened pre-season. Ten Hag was asked how he deals with a player looking to leave the club. “That’s your guess [that Ronaldo wishes to depart],” he said. “That’s not what he’s telling me. So I’m looking at the players that we have and we’re planning with him for this season and we need to build him into the team so he’s on the needs to be at the right level of fitness to do the job we expect of him.

Marcus Rashford has been wanted by Paris Saint-Germain but the French club have apparently piqued their interest. Asked if he has spoken to the forward about the situation, Ten Hag said: “Not yet but he knows I love him, he knows I want him to be here so I will give him that.” say once.”

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