Manchester United are reportedly ready for a major change, with Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak said to be a priority target.

Both Oblak, 29, and current United number one David de Gea, 31, are in the last season of their respective contracts. While a January move may be possible, it appears more likely United will try to bring in Oblak on an end-of-season free transfer, as Atletico will also want to hold onto their world-class keeper for as long as possible.

De Gea has publicly declared his desire to remain at Old Trafford, but if Erik ten Hag decides his time as the number one is coming to an end, then he will likely have to leave unless United want the most expensive backup keeper in the world.


TOP STORY – UNITED TARGET JAN OBLAK AS LONG-TERM GOALKEEPER REPLACEMENT

According to a report from French publication Jeunes Footeux, United are looking for a goalkeeper of international calibre and are willing to pay up for the man with 359 appearances for Atletico since 2014.

It claims United are willing to make an offer of €18million per season – almost double the current salary of the 29-year-old Slovenian – to convince him to make the jump to the Premier League.

The report includes a nugget of information about Paris Saint-Germain also being interested in securing Oblak's services, as questions continue to be asked about Gianluigi Donnarumma.

ROUND-UP

– GiveMeSport is reporting Arsenal are "very close" to securing a contract extension for 21-year-old Bukayo Saka.

– According to Calciomercato.com, Manchester City are joining Chelsea in the chase for Milan's Rafael Leao as he bides his time on signing a new contract.

– Calciomercato is also reporting Milan are looking for forward reinforcements after recent injuries to Divock Origi and Ante Rebic, with Club Brugge winger Noa Lang named as a possible future target. Lille's Jonathan David and Salzburg's Noah Okafor have also been linked.

Brighton are offering new deals to Alexis Mac Allister and Leandro Trossard in an effort to fend off transfer offers, according to Ekrem Konur with Fichajes.

– After being one of the most in-demand centre-backs in the world this past transfer window, Inter's Milan Skriniar is expected to be awarded with a new and improved contract, according to Foot Mercato.

Manchester United have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from Newcastle United.

The 33-year-old joins on an initial one-year loan which United have the option to make permanent, an option they will be obligated to take if he makes a certain number of appearances.

Reports suggest the Red Devils will pay a loan fee of around £2million, with the potential obligation to buy set at £6m.

United had earlier in the day confirmed the capture of Brazil international Antony from Ajax, with the Premier League club expected to pay an £81.3million (€95m) fee for the winger.

Dubravka joined Newcastle in 2018 from Czech side Sparta Prague and has since made 127 Premier League appearances for the Magpies, keeping 37 clean sheets, and was named Newcastle's player of the year in the 2019-20 campaign.

However, the signing of Nick Pope from Burnley this transfer window pushed the Slovakia international down the pecking order and he has now made the switch to Old Trafford.

Dubravka will be back-up to David de Gea, after United loaned out Dean Henderson to Nottingham Forest.

Upon signing, Dubravka told the club's website: "To be joining Manchester United is a special moment in my career and I can't wait to get started, and help the group achieve its ambitions.

"I am joining an excellent group of goalkeepers with lots of experience in the Premier League, and I know that we will push and support each other to keep our standards at the highest levels. The chance to work with David de Gea, alongside Tom Heaton, is one that I am relishing.

"I'd like to sincerely thank everyone at Newcastle United, and especially the fans, for many great experiences over the past four and a half years. I enjoyed every minute of my time there and made amazing memories to look back on.

"My focus is now on helping Manchester United, and we'll see what the future holds after I have given my all this season. I am excited to be here."

Kevin Trapp has turned down Manchester United's interest to stay at Eintracht Frankfurt.

United have been in search of a goalkeeper to compete with David de Gea, deciding to attempt to sign Trapp from the Europa League holders.

Yet the Germany international has announced his decision to stay with the Bundesliga club.

Writing on social media, Trapp said: "Dear fans, there have been a lot of reports of interest in Manchester United in the past few days.

"It is true that there is a written offer. Manchester United is a world club and the fact that I can deal with and think about such an offer, I hope everyone understands.

"Yesterday, however, I informed the person in charge of both clubs that I had chosen Eintracht. I have experienced unforgettable things here with Frankfurt and we made history together. The start to the season has been bumpy, but I have absolute faith in us."

Eintracht lost 6-1 to Bayern Munich in their opening game of the Bundesliga season before going down 2-0 to Real Madrid in the Super Cup in Helsinki.

Oliver Glasner's team have since managed two draws, against Hertha Berlin and Koln respectively.

Trapp has been one of the best performing goalkeepers in the Bundesliga in recent seasons, and in the 2021-22 campaign topped the charts for the number of goals he prevented, as per Opta's expected goals on target conceded (xGOT) model.

The former Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper prevented 6.1 goals across 32 matches in total, a better figure than any other shot-stopper in the competition to have played 10 times or more. 

In comparison, De Gea's goals prevented tally across 38 league matches last season was 2.8, which ranked second in the Premier League (of goalkeepers to make 10 or more appearances).

United, who are expected to return with another big bid for Ajax winger Antony, have also been linked with Newcastle's Martin Dubravka and Everton's Asmir Begovic.

David de Gea is not a new problem for Manchester United. Of course, his backers – and that appears to include many people at the club – will always point to his shot-stopping ability, which has clearly been a strength over the course of his career in England.

We can't forget that legendary performance against Arsenal in a 3-1 away win for United in the 2017-18 season, when De Gea equalled a Premier League record by making 14 saves.

But if that kind of goalkeeper becomes less reliable at arguably the one thing they're good at, questions have to be asked. De Gea was, of course, culpable in United's 4-0 humiliation by Brentford on Saturday.

He let Josh Dasilva's tame long-range effort sneak into the bottom-right corner, and that opened the floodgates on what was one of United's worst days in Premier League history.

But that wasn't all. His needless pass to Christian Eriksen when the Dane was under pressure brought the second goal and further highlighted something De Gea's detractors have started to mention frequently in the past few years: he's not good enough with the ball to be relied upon in a team that wants to build from the back.

That's the style of play Erik ten Hag wants to impose, yet De Gea appears to be far from the ideal candidate. Granted, the need to make saves will always be important for a goalkeeper, and the Spaniard's record of 2.8 goals prevented last season was second only to Jose Sa (8.5) in the Premier League.

But goalkeepers have become more and more important in the implementation of possession-based football over the past decade, and the longer you have the ball, the fewer opportunities the opponent has to score – for example, the three teams with the greatest shares of possession last term also faced the fewest shots.

 

So, if De Gea – who last season only completed 69 per cent of his passes – is not suitable, which goalkeepers are? Stats Perform takes a look at the Opta data of the more realistic potential targets...

KEYLOR NAVAS

If United were able to sign Navas, there's lots to suggest it would be a very shrewd acquisition.

Although the Costa Rican is 35, stylistically the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper does appear to be a good fit for a team that wants to build from the back.

Over the past three seasons, Navas' 89.9 per cent pass completion rate last term is the highest by any goalkeeper (minimum 1,000 minutes played) in a single campaign across the top five leagues. He posted that figure as he and Gianluigi Donnarumma tussled for the starting role.

The season before he found a team-mate with 85.7 per cent of his passes, while in both campaigns he showed he was dependable when facing shots, recording 80.4 and 76.9 save percentages respectively – the former was the best such record of any keeper (min. 1,000 minutes played) over the past three campaigns.

When you consider PSG are seemingly willing to sell, with a move to Napoli apparently in the works, this could be a wonderful opportunity for United.

 

MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN

This might seem a slightly unrealistic option initially, but Ter Stegen certainly shouldn't be seen as unattainable.

While Ter Stegen has rarely been suggested as a likely option for Barcelona to raise funds, he does still retain reasonable value and his sale would ease salary limit concerns – let's not forget, the Frenkie de Jong saga may be murky, but the Blaugrana need money.

As for his suitability to Ten Hag's brand of football, Ter Stegen's essentially been playing that way throughout his time at Barcelona. In each of the past three seasons, he has recorded a pass completion percentage of over 85 per cent – no other goalkeeper across the big five leagues can match that.

 

The concern, however, is his shot-stopping capabilities. In the three seasons mentioned he has, Opta data says, conceded more goals than the average goalkeeper would have expected to based on the quality of chances faced, and his save percentage figures for the three campaigns (68.8, 69 and 70.4) aren't much better than the average for the keepers in question (67.4 per cent).

WOJCIECH SZCZESNY

Poland international Szczesny may not be remembered especially fondly in the Premier League as he failed to live up to early promise at Arsenal.

But in Serie A he's carved out a fine career for himself. First, he kept Alisson out of the Roma team, and then he went on to become Juventus' chosen one to replace Gianluigi Buffon.

He isn't perfect, but again he is a goalkeeper with decent passing stats. His accuracy (79.4 per cent) last season was, admittedly, his worst record out of the past three campaigns, but in 2020-21 he was at 89.1.

 

Szczesny's save percentages over the period in question range from 68 to 74.4, which are reasonable without being spectacular, though he prevented 5.1 goals in 2019-20 and 2.3 last term. Both are fine records.

ILLAN MESLIER

Obviously, a goalkeeper's statistics are very often a reflection of the team they play in and the players around them. Just because a keeper has an excellent passing accuracy in one side doesn't mean they will in another, or vice versa.

Meslier is a keeper United are said to have been long-term admirers of, and in the data search that identified Navas, Szczesny and Ter Stegen as suitable, the Frenchman is one of precious few under the age of 23 who could fit the bill long term.

The 22-year-old hasn't played behind an especially effective defence since coming into the Premier League with Leeds United, but in the 2020-21 season he recorded a 72.6 save percentage and a reasonable passing accuracy of 77.1 per cent.

 

Granted, both were significantly poorer in 2021-22 and he endured a disappointing season individually – letting in 15.8 goals more than expected, the fifth-worst in Europe's top league – that will have raised some doubts, but he has shown potential in a Leeds team that is known for being chaotic.

He'd be a gamble, but at this point it could be argued United need as much change as possible.

The second Saturday of the new Premier League campaign did not disappoint, serving up a thrilling comeback, a spectacular home debut and a familiar sinking feeling for Manchester United supporters.

If last week's 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion represented a baptism of fire for Erik ten Hag, United's trip to Brentford provided further despair as the dismal Red Devils hit a 30-year low.

There was more joy for rivals Manchester City as they cruised to a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, while Gabriel Jesus made good on his pre-season promise with a dominant performance against Leicester City.

Here, Stats Perform trawls through Opta's data to bring you some of the best numbers from the day's Premier League action.

Brentford 4-0 Manchester United: Ten Hag matches unwanted Chapman record against brilliant Bees

Where do you start with this one? New United boss Ten Hag was left in no doubt regarding the side's problems when a Pascal Gross double sent them crashing to an opening-day defeat last week.

But not even the most pessimistic United follower could have predicted their collapse in west London, as Ten Hag became the first Red Devils manager to lose his first two games at the helm since John Chapman in November 1921.

Things got off to a dreadful start when David de Gea let Josh Dasilva's shot squirm into the net after 10 minutes; since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Jordan Pickford (11) has made more errors leading to Premier League goals than the Spaniard.

Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo joined Dasilva on the scoresheet by the 35th minute as Brentford scored with their first four shots on target, while Cristiano Ronaldo cut a dejected figure on his return to the United team.

Only two teams had previously scored four first-half goals against United in a Premier League game; Tottenham in October 2020 and Liverpool in October 2021.

The result is that United have begun a top-flight campaign with back-to-back defeats for the first time since 1992-93, the Premier League's inaugural season.

And while the table has not quite taken shape two games in, United ended the day bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 21, 1992.

Arsenal 4-2 Leicester City: Miraculous home debut for Jesus

Another side with Champions League ambitions has made a far brighter start to the Premier League season, as Mikel Arteta's Arsenal made it two consecutive wins with an entertaining victory over Leicester.

Former Manchester City forward Jesus was hailed as a coup for the Gunners when he arrived in the off-season, and he enjoyed a home debut to remember by scoring two goals and adding two assists.

In doing so, the Brazilian became the first player to score multiple goals on his home Premier League bow for Arsenal, as well as the first Gunners player to double up for goals and assists in a single league game since Theo Walcott against Newcastle in December 2012 (three goals, two assists).

Before Jesus assisted compatriot Gabriel Martinelli for Arsenal's fourth goal, he became the 12th different Brazilian to score in the Premier League for Arsenal – the most of any side in the competition's history.

Jesus was not the only player to impress, however, with Granit Xhaka both scoring and assisting in the same match for the first time in an Arsenal shirt, 252 games into his Gunners career.

Leicester, meanwhile, were subjected to a familiar feeling of frustration in north London – this was the sixth time they have conceded at least four goals in a Premier League game against Arsenal.

Manchester City 4-0 Bournemouth: Champions cruise despite quiet day for Haaland

Home teams hitting four goals seemed to be a theme of the day, as Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions followed up a win at West Ham by cruising past Bournemouth.

Scott Parker's team were likely not expecting a result at the Etihad Stadium; City have now won all 11 of their Premier League matches against Bournemouth, the best 100 per cent winning record against a particular team in the competition's history.

A Jefferson Lerma own goal came after strikes from Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, as the Cherries made it 17 league matches without a win against City in their history – the most one side has faced another without a victory in English league history.

Kevin De Bruyne was at his creative best for City, scoring his 16th league goal since the start of last season before teeing up Foden's strike.

The Belgian has both scored and assisted in 20 separate Premier League matches since his September 2015 debut. Only Mohamed Salah (24) and Son Heung-min (21) have done so on more occasions in that time.

But while City were rampant, new talisman Haaland was quiet. The Norwegian only managed eight touches and two successful passes, but still managed to make an impact.

One of Haaland's passes was from kick-off, the other teed up Gundogan to score the first goal.

Southampton 2-2 Leeds United: Saints manage rare comeback as Aribo opens account

Elsewhere, Jesse Marsch's Leeds failed to make it two wins from two as Southampton launched a stirring comeback on the south coast.

Rodrigo was on the scoresheet in a win over Wolves last week before hitting a brace at St Marys, making him the first player to score three goals in Leeds' first two games of a Premier League season since Alan Smith in 2000-01.

But Leeds could not hold on, failing to win after going two goals ahead for only the second time in their last 36 Premier League games, and for the first time in 14 such contests (since a 3-3 draw with Charlton Athletic in May 2004).

Southampton have now avoided defeat in two of the last five Premier League games where they have gone two goals down (also a 2-2 draw against Brighton in April), but their love of a comeback is a new characteristic.

Before April, the Saints had only managed one win and one draw from the last 58 Premier League games in which they went two goals behind.

Joe Aribo represents one of their most impressive additions following his arrival from Rangers, and his goal made him the first Nigerian to score in the Premier League for Southampton, as well as the 38th in the competition's history overall.

David de Gea described Manchester United's 4-0 defeat to Brentford as "horrible" and says he was responsible for his side not leaving London with a win.

De Gea allowed Josh Dasilva's tame shot from 25 yards squirm through his grasp to give Brentford the lead, before the goalkeeper's poor pass out to Christian Eriksen led to a second from Mathias Jensen.

Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo then ensured Brentford became only the third side to put four past United in the first half of a Premier League game.

It meant United lost four consecutive league matches for the first time since February 1979, while they have also lost seven successive away league games for the first time since losing 10 on the bounce between September and December 1936.

"I cost three points to my team today, to be honest," De Gea told Sky Sports.

"It was a poor performance from myself. After the first mistake and the second, it was very tough for the team to get playing. It was a horrible day.

"We should react better. I should save the first shot and probably the result would be different. It just depends on how the game is going, sometimes I maybe have to read the game better and go long [for the second goal].

"I tried to play when I shouldn't have to Christian. We are not like other teams conceding first and winning 5-1 or 6-1. This is why I cost the team three points

"It was an easy save. We have to react much better and be capable of scoring goals. It was a poor performance. It's easy to play in pre-season when you play for nothing.

"When you play the games that matter, you need bravery and to be proper players. That wasn't the case. We have to keep working, head up, it is the beginning under a new manager and a lot to improve."

United are next back in action a week on Monday when Liverpool visit Old Trafford. 

David de Gea has made his plans for the rest of his career clear, stating in no uncertain terms that he wishes to remain a Manchester United player well beyond the completion of his current contract.

The Spanish international with 45 senior caps has racked up an incredible 487 total club appearances for United in the past 11 seasons, and he will move into the club's top-10 in games played if he makes 24 starts in the upcoming season.

If he sticks around for a couple more years he can make a big impression on that all-time list, sitting only 72 games behind Wayne Rooney in sixth place.

Speaking to the media during his side's pre-season exhibition tour in Australia, De Gea called United "one of the best things in my life".

"I would be really happy to be here for as long as [the club] wants," he said. "I didn't talk with anyone yet, but I want to be here for more years.

"I feel very good here. It's a privilege and an honour to be here in this club. It's one of the best things in my life, to be a part of this club."

He went on to discuss the struggles of last season, and his excitement to get back out there with new manager Erik ten Hag in charge.

"It was a very tough season, embarrassing sometimes," he said. "Some games were a mess, a disaster.

"So we should learn from last season that it cannot happen again. Losing 4-0 or 5-0, it was unacceptable. We needed a better culture of football, of just thinking about football, nothing else. 

"With a new manager, we are in a good way. He is very focused on football and what we need, and the players feel the same."

The 31-year-old has one year remaining on his £375,000 per week deal, with an option of a one-year extension that seemingly will be utilised if it is his choice.

David de Gea has taken pride in winning individual trophies at Manchester United but hopes he never collects another personal accolade because it will mean the Red Devils have failed again.

Jose Mourinho became increasingly frustrated during his time at Old Trafford as goalkeeper De Gea won the Player of the Year award for United, amounting to failure from his outfield stars in the Portuguese's eyes.

The Spain international may have felt hard done by to not win another of those awards last season, with Cristiano Ronaldo pipping him to the honour after scoring 24 goals across all competitions.

De Gea made 128 saves in the 2021-22 Premier League, the third most in the English top flight, as United limped to a sixth-place finish and their lowest points tally in the competition's history.

New manager Erik ten Hag has made a promising start to his tenure with United, though, with the Red Devils winning three pre-season friendlies, including a 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool in Bangkok. They face Aston Villa on Saturday as the season build-up continues.

De Gea has been a vocal critic during United's downfall in recent years, and has insisted he no longer wants to win individual awards as that would represent more failure.

"It's good for me individually, of course, I love to win trophies, but I totally agree with what [Mourinho] said," said De Gea, who has won the Player of the Year award at United on four occasions.

"It must be a striker, a midfielder [who wins that award], that's what needs to happen, but this season it's going to be another player or striker, for sure."

Ten Hag has begun his sizeable rebuilding task with the Premier League side by bringing in Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen, while striking a deal for Lisandro Martinez.

Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes have spoken approvingly of Ten Hag, and De Gea hopes the Dutchman will help United respond to an abject campaign last season.

"For me, for everyone, it was a very tough season, embarrassing sometimes," De Gea said, quoted in several British newspapers. "Some games were a mess, a disaster.

"So we should learn from last season that cannot happen again because it was tough, it was painful to be there – not capable to win games, losing games 4-0 or 5-0. It was unacceptable.

"Sometimes you have to feel pain to go up and keep going."

A notable feature of United's early pre-season games has been Ten Hag's insistence for his side to build from the back and play possession-based football.

For this to be successful, as seen with Ederson at Manchester City, De Gea as a goalkeeper must be confident with the ball at his feet, and the 31-year-old backs his own abilities.

"I think I showed it already," he said. "If you watch my games with the national team or when we played with Sir Alex Ferguson at the beginning, you could see it.

"I don't need to show anyone. I've been playing for many years. I will try my best. I'm going to stay quiet, calm and try to show that to the team and play out from the back.

"Obviously with different managers you have to adapt to the way they want you to play, but I used to play like this in the national team for many years so I'm comfortable with it."

Manchester United have become somewhat accustomed to disappointment over the past nine years, but the 2021-22 season arguably saw them plumb new depths.

United accumulated just 58 points, their worst record in a single Premier League campaign.

But on top of that, champions Manchester City's haul of 93 points meant United finished the season 35 points adrift of the summit – that is comfortably the furthest off the top the Red Devils have ended a term in the Premier League era.

It was also the first time since 1989-90 that United failed to finish a league season with a positive goal difference, as they scored and conceded 57 goals.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick said during his tenure that the squad needed the equivalent of open-heart surgery, suggesting they needed potentially 10 new players.

There are arguably four players who head into the pre-season under new manager Erik ten Hag having not done themselves a disservice this season, though even they will still have points to prove.
 

Fred

The United career of Fred has been a peculiar one. It's fair to say even his most-ardent backers would admit he's not exactly been worth the monumental reported transfer fee of £52million.

But in his defence, a lot of his time at United has been spent playing out of position. At no point since he joined have the club had a world-class defensive midfielder, meaning he's very often been shoe-horned into that role.

And it rarely takes long for his glaring inadequacies in such a position to come to the surface. First and foremost, his awareness of what's around him is poor, and that's arguably the nightmare situation for someone playing a role in which you expect to receive the ball under pressure just outside your box.

The 2021-22 season still had a bit of that for Fred, but crucially there were more signs of him operating more functionally as a 'number eight', rather than a six, and while few would consider him to be an outstanding passer, it's in this role where his excellent work rate and generally solid technique become much more of an asset to the team.

Among United players to feature for at least 500 minutes across all competitions this season, only Diogo Dalot (2.9) attempted more tackles than Fred (2.7) on a per-90-minute basis, while just three players engaged in more duels than the Brazilian (11.7). He also ranked behind only three for passes into the final third (7.5).

Now, perhaps perception plays a part in what many would consider a decent season for Fred, meaning his low performance level in the past suggests his improvement is exaggerated. But as long as he's not playing as a six again, expect Ten Hag to find a use for him.
 

David de Gea

Few would disagree with the suggestion De Gea's level dipped significantly a few years ago, but there were some positive signs in the 2021-22 season, almost as if he had reacted to the scare of seeing Dean Henderson get some game time in 2020-21.

In fact, his 2.8 goals prevented was the second-best score in the Premier League, highlighting how good his shot-stopping was.

Over the course of the campaign, only Illan Meslier (143) and Kasper Schmeichel (131) managed more saves than De Gea (128). This obviously proves just how unreliable the defence in front of him was, because no team of their stature should have such a busy goalkeeper.

For example, Ederson faced just 60 shots, which was the fewest of any goalkeeper to play over 1,600 minutes.

But despite De Gea generally enjoying a positive season when it comes to bailing United out, there remain plenty of fans and critics who feel the club could still do better than him.

Under Ten Hag, it would seem likely there will be a greater reliance on keeping possession, and this could be where other options are considered.

While De Gea's own-half passing accuracy of 88.2 per cent doesn't sound alarming, there were 12 goalkeepers (minimum 500 minutes) with better records, while the 96 and 95 per cent posted by Ederson and Alisson, respectively, show a significant gulf.

Similarly, in the same group of goalkeepers, De Gea ranked 18th (out of 26) for long-pass accuracy (33.1 per cent). The gap to Ederson (59.3 per cent) and Alisson (48.1 per cent) is even more pronounced.

Of course, a goalkeeper's primary function is to prevent goals, but if yours is completely out of sync with the team's style, then that's automatically an area where you're not maximising potential.
 

Cristiano Ronaldo

When Ronaldo's return was confirmed last year, there was an awful lot of noise around whether he was right for United.

People claimed that, despite his goals, Ronaldo made Juventus a less functional team because he didn't offer enough outside the penalty area.

Those suggestions never quite went away at United either because, regardless of how effective he proved to be in the box, the team in general played below expectations for practically the entire season.

It's impossible to say whether a different striker with a broader arsenal would have turned United into a better team, but given how deep their issues run, it seems a little unfair to pin the blame on Ronaldo.

After all, goals win football matches – he certainly did his bit. Across all competitions, he scored 24 goals at a rate of one every 132.9 minutes. Only Jamie Vardy (131.6 mins), Mohamed Salah (129.5 mins) and Riyad Mahrez (122.1 mins) netted with greater frequency among Premier League players (min. 50 shots).

Similarly, only Salah (31) and Harry Kane (27) scored more than Ronaldo, though each of them had at least an extra 800 minutes on the pitch than him.

Ronaldo's 24 makes him one of only six players to net at least 20 goals in a single season for United since Alex Ferguson retired, with Bruno Fernandes and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (both 28) plundering the most in that span.

Surely Ten Hag won't discard him?
 

Anthony Elanga

There was an expectation Elanga was going to play a reasonable amount of football this season, such had been his progress in the United youth sides.

But he didn't feature in a single Premier League game until Ralf Rangnick's first match in charge at the start of December. Before then, he'd had one brief cameo in the EFL Cup before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer promptly forgot about him again.

As it happened, Elanga proved to be a bit of a Rangnick favourite. Even though a lot of his appearances were from the bench, no outfield player featured in more games for the interim manager than the speedy forward.

Rangnick clearly liked Elanga's pace, attitude and work rate, and he did chip in with three goals. Granted, that was hardly an outstanding number, but over the same period only Ronaldo (12) and Fernandes (five) managed more.

His nine chances created was a pretty poor return, but again, only Ronaldo (84) and Fernandes (67) attempted more shots than the Sweden international (27), so he was offering something in attack.

There's undoubtedly a lot of room for improvement there, and he'll need to sharpen up from a creative sense if he's to have a long-term future at the club, but he's clearly in a stronger position than 12 months ago.

David de Gea bemoaned an abject Manchester United season as he insisted his Red Devils' team-mates who are not committed "do not have to stay".

Ralf Rangnick has failed to transform United's fortunes following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's departure in November, ending his tenure with the lowest win rate of any manager in the club's Premier League history (41.7 per cent – 10 wins from 24 games).

Erik ten Hag watched on as United fell to a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, albeit they will be playing in the Europa League next season after West Ham failed to leapfrog them on the final day.

The incoming Ten Hag will have a sizeable rebuilding task at hand after United failed to end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero in 2021-22) for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign (minus-one).

United also concluded their campaign with a record-low Premier League points haul (58), and De Gea vented his frustrations after the game at Selhurst Park.

"I want to forget this season and be 100 per cent ready for the next season and be positive. The best thing that happened today is the season has finished," De Gea told BBC Sport.

"It has been horrible, a very bad season in all ways, it has been very tough. It is time to rest and prepare your minds for next season.

"Ones who want to stay, stay at the club. Ones that don't want to stay, go out. You don't have to stay here.

"The new manager and staff are already looking for new players. Hopefully, they bring good ones with good character."

Unwanted Premier League-era records continued to tumble for United, who have lost six consecutive away league matches for the first time since March 1981, and De Gea is excited for new beginnings under Ten Hag next term.

"I cannot wait. I am excited for the next season, new manager, new players," he added.

"Hopefully we will improve and put Manchester United in a better position. We need to trust in the future."

Juan Mata has called for a reset at Manchester United as he suggested any player who does not meet the standards should not be at Old Trafford.

United have suffered another dismal season and, regardless of the result in their final game at Crystal Palace on Sunday, will finish the campaign with their lowest points tally in Premier League history.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismissed in late November before the short-term appointment of Ralf Rangnick, who will leave with the lowest win rate of any United manager in Premier League history (currently 43.5 per cent – 10 wins from 23 games).

Erik ten Hag is the next man tasked with transforming United's fortunes, and midfielder Mata urged improvements from his side next term as questions persist over the players' commitment and attitude.

"It's clear that on the pitch, we have made many mistakes," Mata told The Athletic. "We could have also dealt better with certain situations that were happening in the club, managers changing, negative things.

"At the end of the day, we let that maybe affect too much the energy of Carrington.

"Certain standards were not met. Whether that's attitude, level of training, off the pitch, which doesn't include players, we haven't been good enough. So that's where we could learn.

"Also, certain things were out of our control, which we shouldn't let affect us. You feel that way when you see certain things are not good enough. But we shouldn't have let things happen.

"Many circumstances can affect certain behaviours. If you don't have a solid base, when bad things come, it is difficult to stay all together.

"We need a reset in the culture of the club. That's how I feel. The standards, what it means to represent this club to any player, what entitles you to play for Manchester United, what is expected on the pitch and off the pitch.

"Many things that need to be clear – this is Manchester United and anyone who doesn't meet those standards is not up to the task and should not be here. That's as clear as I can be."

United require victory over Palace to guarantee they do not drop to seventh, which would mark their joint-worst finish in the Premier League (alongside the 2013-14 season) and see them play Europa Conference League football next term.

Cristiano Ronaldo will look to add to his 18 Premier League goals this season, only netting more in a single campaign in 2007-08 (31), while goalkeeper David de Gea will aim to end a positive season on a personal level on a high note.

De Gea implored United to perform for the fans when they visit Palace, who have never won in 12 Premier League home games against the Red Devils (D4 L8), which is the most one team has faced another at home without ever winning in the competition.

"We know [this season has] been difficult," he told MUTV. "But at least just for [the fans] and for our pride [we will] try to win the game.

"[I want to] at least give a win for the fans because they have been absolutely amazing for the whole season and it's great to have them at every single game.

"It will always have been a tough season for us, but I am very proud of my season, to be honest.

"I worked really hard in the summer to be here and be ready to play and show my qualities for the team. I think I did very well. I played very consistent this season and helped the team a lot."

Manchester United supporters will not forget the damaging impact some Red Devils players have had this campaign, while Jesse Lingard did not have a "god-given right" to an Old Trafford send-off.

That is according to United great Gary Neville, who referenced legendary captains of the club, Steve Bruce and Bryan Robson, not being given special treatment in their final games for the club.

Lingard was not in the squad for the final home game of the season against Brentford last Monday, his last chance to feature at Old Trafford with his contract set to expire at the end of the campaign.

Louie Scott, Lingard's brother, subsequently took to Instagram to take aim at United, venting his anger how the England international could spend 20 years at the club without being offered a farewell.

Neville – speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast – labelled the situation as "nonsense" as he suggested Lingard did not merit a send-off.

"There was a lot of nonsense spoken about Lingard. He's been at the club a long time and done a good job," he said.

"But I've seen Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce not play in their last games for the club and not get a send-off in cup finals.

"They were both great captains and one of them probably is the greatest captain Manchester United have ever had. They didn't get the send-off they wanted so I'm not sure why Lingard deserved it.

"I was thrown away in West Brom in a toilet – sometimes it just doesn't work out, Jesse!

"To feel like you've a god-given right to get some minutes on the pitch based on how they played. Not one of them, other than David de Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo, can complain about what will happen to them this summer."

Lingard was again not present as Brighton and Hove Albion thumped United 4-0 on Saturday, the Red Devils have now conceded more goals (56) than in any previous Premier League campaign.

The result represented a new low in a dire season for United, who will also set their lowest-ever Premier League points tally, sitting on 58 – six fewer than their 2013-14 mark with only one game to play.

Bruno Fernandes accepted the assessment from United supporters that the players "were not fit to wear the shirt", while interim manager Ralf Rangnick apologised for the humiliation at the Amex Stadium.

Neville believes he has never seen the United fans turn on their own players as they did on the south coast, which he suggests shows how bad the performance was.

"It's been a shocking few months. I can't wait for the season to end and to stop talking about them," he added. 

"I was delighted not to be on the Brighton game before it, during it and after it. I can't watch them because it doesn't represent anything that a football club should be, let alone Manchester United.

"The players are only damaging themselves to a point where the fans won't forget. They were singing 'you're not fit to wear the shirt" – I have never, ever, heard United fans resort to that chant. That's a chant you would hear at QPR a few years ago or Sunderland when the fans were walking out.

"I have never known a United fanbase turn on a team like this one. It's now really clear the players have thrown the towel in. They really have. It's been a disgrace for a couple of months. It's embarrassing.

"[Incoming manager Erik] ten Hag has got a massive job to do."

Erik ten Hag appears as though he will have a huge say over his own Manchester United transfer targets.

The Dutchman has inked a three-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.

Ten Hag will officially take over on July 1, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in interim charge.

A face familiar to the Premier League could now be headed to Old Trafford with Ten Hag from Ajax…


TOP STORY - TEN HAG TO BRING HALLER TO UNITED

Manchester United may make a move for Ajax striker Sebastien Haller in the off-season according to The Sun.

Haller currently plays under ten Hag, who will take over at United at the end of the campaign.

The Ivory Coast striker, who spent two years with West Ham United, has netted 33 goals in all competitions for Ajax this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are optimistic that they can land Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski in the off-season, reports Sport. Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023.

- Liverpool have contacted 22-year-old Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni about a move to England, claims Foot Mercato.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Inter are not interested in signing Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, contrary to reports. Pjanic is currently on loan at Besiktas from Barcelona.

- David de Gea and Manchester United are ready to enter into talks on a contract extension reports 90min.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Luka Modric will ink a new deal with Real Madrid running until 2023.

David de Gea is "very excited" to work under Erik ten Hag after the Dutchman was confirmed as Manchester United's new manager on Thursday. 

Ten Hag will arrive from Ajax at the end of the season and take over from interim boss Ralf Rangnick on a three-year contract with an option to extend for another year. 

The 52-year-old is on course to win a third Eredivisie title with Ajax this season and has been lauded for his possession-based style. 

He guided Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19 and won two KNVB Bekers, though he was unable to make it a third last Sunday when his side were beaten 2-1 by PSV in the final.

De Gea is pleased to finally have clarity over United's managerial future and hopes they can focus on getting their push for a place in the Premier League's top four back on track. 

"Very excited the club has made the decision so now we all know," De Gea told United's official website. 

"We know what he has done for Ajax, he has nearly been in a Champions League final, he won titles and he develops players, so I’m very excited. 

"I think he plays very good football. Now we have to be very focused on the last games but we are excited to know who is coming. But now let's focus on Arsenal and fight until the end to be in the top four. 

"It's good to know and for sure he is already watching the games and thinking about what he can do to improve the team, so that's very good for us. I'm looking forward to working under him. 

"Of course, now the focus on Arsenal, it's a final [for us], we have to take the three points, [otherwise] the top four is done. Let's be focused and win the game." 

After months of speculation, Manchester United have confirmed Erik ten Hag will take over as the club's new manager at the end of another frustrating season at Old Trafford.

The 52-year-old will have a huge job on his hands when he arrives this summer, with the Red Devils looking unlikely to qualify for the Champions League after struggling under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick this term.

High up on Ten Hag's to-do list will be deciding who amongst the current squad will be suited to playing his high-pressing, possession-based style of football.

Here, Stats Perform uses Opta-powered data to give an insight into three players who could impress under the Dutchman, and three who may find their days numbered after his arrival…

Who might star under Ten Hag?

Donny Van de Beek

An easy choice. Van de Beek emerged as a star under Ten Hag's tutelage at Ajax, and was a driving force being the Amsterdam giants' terrific run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19. Installed as a creative midfielder alongside Frenkie de Jong, Van de Beek scored three goals and provided two assists during that famous run, with only Dusan Tadic (six) outscoring him for Ajax in the competition.

Having played a paltry 381 minutes for United across 14 appearances this season before being sent on loan to Everton in January, the 25-year-old looks the most obvious player to benefit from the arrival of his former coach

Jadon Sancho

Another player likely to thrive under Ten Hag is England winger Jadon Sancho, who has registered five goals and three assists in 37 appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils since moving from Borussia Dortmund last summer.

Only Bruno Fernandes (98) has created more open-play chances for United this term than Sancho (47), and he definitely stands to benefit from the arrival of a coach whose teams play with genuine width.

Each of Tadic (15), Antony (12), and Steven Berghuis (11) have reached double figures for Eredivisie goals for Ajax this term, so their former coach could be the man to get the best of the England man.

Luke Shaw

Ten Hag's Ajax team deployed their full-backs as a key attacking threat, with Argentine left-back Nicolas Tagliafico netting three goals during 2018-19's Champions League run.

Amongst Premier League defenders, only Trent Alexander-Arnold created more than the 72 chances crafted by Red Devils left-back Shaw during the 2020-21 season, and the England man could rediscover that form if unleashed by United's new boss.

Who might see their position threatened?

Harry Maguire 

The United skipper has faced much criticism for his role in another poor campaign for the Red Devils, and could be the first big-name casualty of Ten Hag's attempts to install a more progressive style of play.

No United defender has made as many errors leading to shots as Maguire in the Premier League this term (three), while his passing accuracy of 86.37 per cent is marginally lower than those of fellow defenders Raphael Varane (87.47) and Victor Lindelof (86.63), potentially marking out the England man as ripe for a replacement.

David De Gea

When another possession-hungry coach arrived in Manchester back in 2016, one of his first moves involved finding a goalkeeper he could trust to participate as his team tried to build from the back.

That man, of course, was Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, and Ten Hag could look to replicate his acquisition of Ederson by replacing De Gea. The Spaniard has recorded a pass accuracy of just 68.81 per cent in the Premier League this season, way short of elite rivals Ederson (88.35) and Allison (85.22).

Cristiano Ronaldo

Hear us out on this one. The legendary striker's goalscoring prowess remains unrivalled, and his 21 goals in all competitions since returning to Old Trafford last summer put him a long way clear of his nearest team-mate (Bruno Fernandes with nine).

However, the height of Ten Hag's success at Ajax came with Tadic used as a false nine in 2018-19, recording 10 goal involvements (six goals, four assists) during their thrilling European run. 

Besides, with Ronaldo's 140 strikes placing him at the top of the Champions League's all-time top goalscoring charts, can the 37-year-old really be expected to forgo playing in European football's premier competition if United fail to qualify? If not, a potentially tough decision regarding his future could be taken out of Ten Hag's hands.

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