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Erik ten Hag happy to work with a lean squad at Man Utd

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is happy to work with a lean squad next season with the emphasis on character, leadership and cohesion, The Telegraph’s James Ducker reveals.

The Dutchman formally took charge as United’s head coach earlier this month, and he has a huge job ahead in rebuilding the squad after a disappointing Premier League campaign.

A number of players including Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic are leaving on free transfers this summer, but Ten Hag is not necessarily planning to fill the void for each.

The focus for the summer appears on quality over quantity with the need for more ‘character and leadership’. Ten Hag would also prefer a lean squad to encourage better togetherness and motivation to succeed.

Meanwhile, United are adamant that they won’t be held for ransom when it comes to summer signings. The club are also wary of pursuing experienced players such as N’Golo Kante on big wages and longer contracts.

Willian’s unfruitful spell with Arsenal has been highlighted as a potential example as to why Ten Hag may not prefer marquee players, who are in their prime, but approaching the final phase of their careers.

Our view:

Ten Hag is likely to prefer more technical players this summer. He is keen on a reunion with Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, but a deal appears to have been held up by the player’s stance.

De Jong has apparently said ‘no‘ to a summer move to Old Trafford amid the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League. United are still in the mix, but need to make quicker transfer decisions.

In the past few years, the club have tended to delay big-name purchases in an attempt to lower the transfer fee. This has meant that the players have arrived late, mostly after the pre-season campaign.

Ten Hag will be hoping to avoid a similar repeat this summer. With his attacking brand of football, United players will need to adapt to a higher intensity and manage to sustain the same over 90 minutes.

This is a prime reason behind the early pre-season from June 27. Ten Hag will be focusing on better cohesion among players that was evidently lacking under Ralf Rangnick during the final months of last season.

Only part of the squad is expected to report from late June with the players currently on international duty due to arrive two weeks later. Still, there are several first-team stars that will want to impress the Dutchman.

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford had below-par seasons last term, and the duo have the opportunity to work with Ten Hag from the off and rekindle their form and consistency from previous years.

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