Robin van Persie has congratulated Manchester United new boy Tyrell Malacia on his move to Old Trafford, predicting the left-back will build a "great connection" with his new club.

Malacia became the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era on Tuesday, signing a four-year contract after United agreed a deal reportedly worth an initial £13m (€15.1m).

The 22-year-old starred during Feyenoord's run to the Europa Conference League final last season, also showcasing his attacking quality by creating 1.1 open-play chances per 90 minutes in his last Eredivisie campaign.

Van Persie, who scored 26 times during United's most recent Premier League title triumph in 2012-13, believes the Netherlands international, who he played alongside after returning to Feyenoord in 2018, will thrive at Old Trafford. 

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Van Persie said: "Tyrell, I would like to congratulate you on your fantastic move to Manchester United, and this big moment in your career.

"You've shown that with self-belief, talent, and hard work, day in, day out, that dreams come true.

"To all Red Devils fans, you're not only getting a very talented full-back, but as well, a fantastic person.

"Be nice to him, support him in good times and bad, and he will give absolutely everything for you guys. I'm sure it will be a great connection together.

"On behalf of Feyenoord fans and Feyenoord people, thanks Tyrell for what you've done, for all these years from a young kid up until now, this fantastic moment. You are a true example for the next generation."

Upon his unveiling as a United player, Malacia revealed Van Persie's tales of his own time in Manchester had influenced his move, telling the club's website: "I spoke in the past with Robin and I played with him, and spoke with him about his experience in Manchester.

"Everything was good. He says they're the biggest club and the feeling was good, and he loved it here."

Malacia is expected to compete with Luke Shaw for game-time under Ten Hag, and could make his Premier League debut when United host Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

Manchester United certainly can't be accused of not supporting their new manager, Erik ten Hag, given the players they're going for in the transfer market.

Granted, that's more about how United are primarily being linked with players Ten Hag knows or has previously coached rather than them targeting a host of renowned superstars.

Whether that suggests a certain trust in Ten Hag or if it comes down to a lack of belief in the club's own scouting department is a discussion for another time, but clearly Ten Hag is being allowed to build a team in his image, and that's what many fans will have hoped for.

The first one in through the door is Tyrell Malacia, who joins from Eredivisie side Feyenoord on a four-year   contract with an option for a further season.

Netherlands international Malacia had apparently been close to joining Lyon until United came in at the last minute, but once the Red Devils' interest became apparent, there was only likely to be one destination: Old Trafford.

But what sort of player are United getting? Stats Perform takes a look…

Exit looming for Telles?

When considering the areas United needed to strengthen ahead of the new season, left-back might not have been highlighted as a major cause for concern, therefore some are likely to feel Malacia's signing isn't necessary.

But most would agree Luke Shaw endured a generally poor season, and his deputy – Alex Telles – seemingly wasn't good enough to fully dislodge the England international. Then you have Brandon Williams, who has returned from a loan spell at Norwich City but will in all likelihood be sold.

One would assume Malacia's arrival will lead to another sale at left-back as well, and that'll presumably be Telles rather than Shaw, who will be expected to get back to the level he showed in the 2020-21 season.

Shaw has responded well to competition before. In fact, his excellent 2020-21 campaign coincided with United's signing of Telles, but perhaps he took his foot off the pedal once he realised the Brazilian wasn't likely to be a long-term threat to his place.

Malacia could be.

 

At 22, Malacia is youthful and boasts a skillset that may make him a greater understudy – and challenger – to Shaw than Telles.

Already a Netherlands international, Malacia is quick, comfortable on the ball and had an impressive output in attack last season. Telles, on the other hand, isn't especially fast and his final-third threat relies on crosses from deep.

Full-backs performed an important function for Ten Hag's Ajax. Their underlapping runs make them potential threats in the box, while those at his disposal in Amsterdam possessed excellent technical abilities, helping the team to maintain control of possession even out wide, a little like at Manchester City.

Such a role certainly shouldn't faze Malacia considering his pace and technique.
 

A considered threat

Malacia's technical ability and speed are probably his two most obvious attributes, though neither are especially easy to prove with numbers.

Of course, it's difficult to accurately – and fairly – compare players across two hugely different competitions just using stats, but you can at least get an idea of what a player offers.

Malacia's 1.1 open-play chances created every 90 minutes in the Eredivisie last season was the 10th highest among defenders (minimum of 1,000 minutes played). That was the same as Shaw's, though the latter was obviously playing in a league generally regarded to be a higher level.

 

Despite that frequency not being especially remarkable, Malacia did lay on four assists, and his 6.0 expected assists (xA) was bettered by only four Eredivisie defenders.

So although he wasn't necessarily creating a huge amount of opportunities, those he did craft had an average xA value of 0.16 – of the defenders with at least 18 key passes, only Daley Blind (0.27), Noussair Mazraoui (0.19) and Yukinari Sugawara (0.17) created better chances on average.

Similarly, Malacia's xA output on a per-90-minute basis of 0.19 was higher than that of Shaw (0.14) and Telles (0.11).

Both of the xA averages mentioned for Malacia highlight – and can be partly explained by – how he attacks. He recorded 2.7 touches in the opposition's box every 90 minutes last term (fifth among Eredivisie defenders), whereas Shaw (1.1) and Telles (1.0) were far less willing to get into that area.

As such, of his 5.0 passes into the box each game, only 3.0 were crosses. Those respective figures for Shaw (5.9/5.7) and Telles (7.6/7.3) show a far greater reliance on hopeful crosses.

 

Again, specific coaching instructions may explain the figures of Shaw and Telles, so the data isn't suggesting any one is better than the others, but it's still easy to see why Ten Hag might feel Malacia is a good fit as one of his underlapping full-backs.

Malacia also tallied more tackle attempts (2.7), tackles won (1.8) and duels (11.0) compared to Shaw (1.1, 0.7 and 8.2) and Telles (2.4, 1.3 and 9.8).

As before, these don't necessarily mean he's a better defender because the context of the two leagues and the respective teams' playing styles make it difficult to draw such conclusions, but Malacia's figures do at least point to a certain level of tenacity off the ball.

Regardless of the numbers, it seems clear United are taking a bit of a gamble with Malacia. Although obviously talented, he is young, inexperienced and joining a team that cannot claim to have much stability.

Nothing about United over the past decade has suggested it's a club that successfully nurtures young players anymore. Even when you look at the success stories such as Marcus Rashford, he's not appeared happy for a while.

The fact Malacia has seemingly been signed upon the request of his manager – rather than a glorified accountant on the board – is undoubtedly a tick in the pros column, but only time will tell if that trust in Ten Hag is well-placed.

Marcus Rashford believes enjoying a full pre-season will allow him to rediscover his form under new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag, saying he is "ready and focused" ahead of the new Premier League season.

Rashford endured a poor campaign in 2021-22, scoring just four goals in 25 league appearances as United finished sixth and posted their worst-ever Premier League points tally (58).

Having only played 1,232 minutes of Premier League football, Rashford was left out of Gareth Southgate's England squad for June's Nations League fixtures.

The Three Lions boss also claimed Rashford, as well as club team-mate Jadon Sancho, had "a lot to do" to make England's squad for the World Cup later this year after struggling on the domestic stage.

But after featuring in England's Euro 2020 party last year and missing out on a full pre-season ahead of the Coronavirus-affected 2020-21 campaign, Rashford is relishing his time training under Ten Hag. 

"I have definitely not had that much rest before in a summer break, so it was a little bit strange at first and I had to adjust my program a little bit, make it a little bit longer, so I could come in with a positive look on everything," he told the club's website.

"We are excited to go away [on tour] now. You feel every day now you are getting that one step sharper and one step fitter to being ready for the season.

"I don't think I have had a proper pre-season since 2019 so for me it is definitely a positive thing.

"I feel like I probably needed that time to switch off a little bit and me having that time enabled me to refocus a lot earlier than I expected, to be honest. 

"Like I say, I feel ready and focused so when that first game does come, it's good to know you have done almost six weeks of training beforehand. It will definitely be a positive."

United endured a dire campaign last term as their major trophy drought was extended to five years, with caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick posting the worst points-per-game return (1.5) and win percentage (42 per cent) of any manager in the club's Premier League history.

But with Ten Hag at the helm, Rashford says there is a newfound excitement among the United squad. 

"We have got that feeling of excitement and that buzz around the training ground again and so it is definitely positive going into pre-season," he added.

"It is just about, one, getting the principles right of how Erik wants us to play and the details, and two, enjoying it. 

"In the first week of training we have done both and everyone is looking forward to going on the tour and putting what we have done in training into the first games.

"It is a fresh start for everyone, and for me personally I have had quite a long break, a nice camp before coming back into training, and we are starting off on the right foot.

"Like I said, everyone is looking forward to pre-season now and going out to try to put into the games what we have learned in training so far, and what we will continue to learn, not only in the pre-season but throughout the season as well."

United will face the likes of Liverpool and Atletico Madrid in high-profile friendlies before beginning their Premier League season against Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists the club have "no intention" of selling Manchester United target Frenkie De Jong, but says the midfielder may have to accept a salary adjustment to remain at Camp Nou.

De Jong, who emerged as one of European football's hottest properties under Erik ten Hag at Ajax before joining Barca in 2019, has been strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford since his former boss took over at United.

The Netherlands international said in May that his preference would be to remain at Camp Nou, which he labelled his "dream club", but the Blaugrana's financial difficulties have given rise to speculation he could depart.

Barcelona's desire to recruit wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has only amplified such rumours, but Laporta believes De Jong is happy at the club and could stay – if an agreement over his salary can be reached.

"Frenkie de Jong is a Barca player and is recognised as one of the best players in the world," Laporta told reporters.

"We know of clubs that want him, not only United, and we have no intention of selling him. The player, I get the impression, wants to stay. 

"He is comfortable at Barca and I will do what is in my power so that Frenkie stays here, but it is also a salary issue and it would have to be adjusted.

"What is certain is that the salary levels of some players are not in line with the salary levels that the board of directors that I have the privilege of presiding over have set."

 

De Jong made 47 appearances for Barcelona during the 2021-22 season, scoring four goals and boasting the best passing accuracy (91.18 per cent) of any of the club's midfielders to play at least 20 games in all competitions.

Laporta refused to be drawn on Barcelona's interest in Lewandowski, however, only affirming his respect for the Poland international's current club. 

"He is a Bayern player," he said of the striker, who plundered 50 goals for the Bundesliga champions last season. 

"Everyone knows that he is a great player, but I would prefer to be reserved because he is a Bayern player. 

"We know that he has publicly stated that he wants to come to Barca and we are very flattered, but we have respect for Bayern Munich, which is one of the best clubs in the world. Between clubs, we respect each other."

Manchester United have agreed a deal to sign Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia, according to the Eredivisie club's director Frank Arneson.

Lyon had been linked with a move for Malacia, but United have reportedly agreed to a deal worth an initial £12.9million (€15m).

Having come through the youth system, Malacia has played 136 games for Feyenoord, making 50 appearances in all competitions last season as Arne Slot's men finished third in the Eredivisie and reached the Europa Conference League final.

Speaking to 1908NL, Arneson said all that remains is for the 22-year-old to agree personal terms with the Red Devils, revealing: "The agreement with Man United is there. We are now waiting for Tyrell.

"If Malacia says yes, then a transfer to Manchester United is imminent."

Malacia made his senior debut for the Netherlands last September and has since won a further four caps for his country.

Only two Feyenoord players made more appearances in all competitions than Malacia last term, winger Bryan Linssen (53) and midfielder Orkun Kokcu (51), with the young full-back featuring in 17 of their Europa Conference League contests.

The addition of Malacia would represent new United boss Erik ten Hag's first move to strengthen a defence which conceded 57 Premier League goals last campaign.

United returned for pre-season training this week as they build towards Ten Hag's first competitive match in charge, a Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

Erik ten Hag is the latest boss Manchester United have turned to in their pursuit of success in the post-Alex Ferguson era.

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to meet expectations since Ferguson's retirement in 2013, leaving Ten Hag with a difficult challenge on his hands.

Aside from getting results right on the pitch and challenging for honours, Ten Hag also has the task of bleeding young talent into the first-team fold on a regular basis – something his predecessors have all continued to do despite their eventual failings.

The likes of Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay have capitalised on opportunities in the past decade after rising through the club's youth ranks – and United have no shortage of players who can follow suit.

Three players in particular are ones that Ten Hag should be keeping close tabs on, and they could become integral.

Facundo Pellistri

The highly rated winger has spent the past 18 months on loan in Spain with Deportivo Alaves, accumulating plenty of first-team opportunities with a total of 33 appearances across all competitions in that period, but just 11 have been as a starter.

United may feel they can provide those limited opportunities off the bench themselves and, if utilised, can expect plenty of link-up play down the right side from Pellistri – with the majority of his final-third passes during his spell with Alaves coming in that area.

No team in the top six of the Premier League last season scored fewer goals than United last term (57), with seventh-placed West Ham (60) and eighth-placed Leicester City (62) also bettering that tally.

The attacking third is an area where Ten Hag needs to find more threat and Pellistri may provide that option, albeit he failed to register a goal or an assist during his spell in Spain. He created seven chances in 753 first-team minutes last season, but none of those were converted.

With more creativity in the squad at United and better support, Pellistri should be able to improve on his direct return to register more influential moments in matches.

James Garner

Garner has helped turn Nottingham Forest from second-tier middlemen to a Premier League outfit – with a play-off victory against Huddersfield Town bringing an end to a 23-year wait for top-flight football.

In Forest's promotion-winning campaign, loanee Garner was a regular fixture in the side with 41 appearances, 36 of which were as a starter, resulting in four goals and eight assists – with only Brennan Johnson, Lewis Grabban and Philip Zinckernagel being involved in more direct goal contributions.

Seven of Garner's assists came from set-pieces, with United's overall total in 2021-22 being 10 in that regard – so Garner could play an integral part in improving that return with his deliveries from corners and free-kicks, if Bruno Fernandes can occasionally be shuffled off such duties.

Crucially for a club like United, Garner has shown he can perform under pressure given his display in the Championship play-off final against Huddersfield – where his accuracy of 88 per cent from 48 attempted passes included completions across the field.

Forest, understandably, are reportedly interested in bringing Garner back to the City Ground again next season in their bid to remain in the Premier League, but United will assess the 21-year-old in pre-season before making a final decision.

Alejandro Garnacho

Earning his senior debut for United in the Premier League clash against Chelsea in April, Garnacho's introduction to the Premier League was merely a cameo at the end of that clash.

On the final day of the season, in a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, Garnacho again came off the bench for an 11-minute appearance and was once more limited with his opportunity to make an impression – though that has already been done in the youth ranks.

He scored in UEFA Youth League matches against Atalanta and Young Boys. However, it was in the FA Youth Cup where Garnacho made perhaps his biggest impact, scoring in every round bar the fourth as United lifted the trophy – with a seven-goal haul in the competition including a double in the 3-1 victory against Nottingham Forest in the final.

With Jadon Sancho struggling for consistency down the left for United since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, Garnacho could return to the first-team fold during the 2022-23 season.

Opportunities could well come in the cup competitions, including the Europa League, in what will be a frantic season due to the disruption caused by the World Cup in Qatar.

Manchester United's owners must invest to make the club attractive to potential signings amid a reported battle with Brentford to sign Christian Eriksen.

That is the message from United great Gary Neville, who is frustrated with how the Glazer family run the club.

Eriksen is said to be considering a move between Brentford and United, which might seem unusual given the contrasting statures of the two clubs.

The offer from United is reported to be far more financially lucrative, but the Denmark midfielder may repay the faith shown in him by Thomas Frank, who gave him a chance to prove his fitness – and quality – a little over six months after Eriksen had collapsed on the pitch at Euro 2020 due to a heart problem.

Eriksen scored once and assisted four goals in 11 Premier League games to help Brentford maintain their top-flight status, having joined the Bees in January after being released from Inter due to Serie A rulings preventing players from featuring with a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted.

The 30-year-old also created 30 chances following his Brentford bow in February, with only Martin Odegaard (38) and Kevin De Bruyne (42) providing more opportunities in the Premier League over that period.

As Erik ten Hag looks to rebuild at United, Neville urged the Glazers to invest to make the club appealing for transfer targets again.

"That's why dividends have to stop for a period," Neville posted on Twitter in response to recent reports that Eriksen is yet to make his mind up.

"Every penny has to go back into the club until it becomes attractive again. The club has become a graveyard for players.

"Culturally for owners to take cash out of a poorly performing business is demoralising."

Jurrien Timber and Antony have also been linked to reunite with their former Ajax coach Ten Hag, but Christopher Nkunku will not be joining United after penning a contract extension with RB Leipzig.

England legend John Barnes has warned Manchester United that their issues stem deeper than the squad at their disposal, as the club enters the Erik Ten Hag era.

United axed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer midway through last season and drafted in Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis until the end of the 2021-22 season – which ended with disappointment as the club failed to secure a top-four finish and Champions League football.

Ten Hag was lured to Old Trafford from Ajax to take the club into a new direction, becoming the fifth permanent managerial appointment at United since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

The arrival of the Dutchman comes amid further changes in the United hierarchy, with Ed Woodward departing and Richard Arnold coming in as chief executive officer.

While fans are hoping for new signings, having seen rivals Manchester City land Erling Haaland and Liverpool capture Darwin Nunez, Barnes isn't convinced that additions will solve their problems.

"I don't know whether other players coming in is going to be better because Man United have spent money and brought players in and it hasn't worked," he told Stats Perform.

"So, it's not a question of just buying players in and automatically it's going to work because you know, everybody has their problems, adjusting when a new manager comes in when new players coming in. 

"What I do know is they've spent money and they've had players. So, I don't know anything about the institution as to how an institution should be run. But what I do know is they’ve got good players. 

"If they have good players and they're not performing, I don't think you can blame the hierarchy, blame the owners for them not playing well on the pitch. 

"Because what they have on the pitch, the players they have on the pitch, the money they've spent, they shouldn't be where they are. And they shouldn't be in the turmoil that they are. 

"I think it's too easy to blame that rather than looking at the players who should take responsibility for performances."

Barnes also made it clear that Ten Hag needs to establish himself as more powerful than the players in the United squad, as Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel have done.

"Once you don't have a manager who you give the power to make decisions, you will then keep changing the manager and then the players get very complacent. Because they know they're not going to get blamed," he explained.

"I can think of the three clubs in England who don't blame the manager and who the manager is more powerful than the players, Klopp, Guardiola, Tuchel, there's not one player at those clubs who could undermine the manager.

"I suppose you could put Conte and now Arteta in that position after the decision with Aubameyang where he [Arteta] won that battle, and that has to happen at any football club to be successful.

"Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened at United for the last four or five managers. So that for me is the issue, not the manager."

Manchester United are reportedly preparing a second offer for 22-year-old Porto striker Evanilson after they had a bid of €65million rejected by the Portuguese champions.

The Brazilian was purchased by Porto in 2020 for €8.8m out of Fluminense, and after scoring four goals from 24 appearances in his first season in the Primeira Liga, he exploded in his second campaign with 21 goals in 46 outings.

He had 14 goals and four assists in 30 league games, and seven goals in seven Taca de Portugal fixtures on the way to winning Portugal's top domestic cup.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS PLAN BIG-MONEY MOVE FOR LITTLE-KNOWN BRAZILIAN

The report out of Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claims Porto has already fought off interest from both Brighton and Hove Albion and Wolves by raising their asking price to €80m.

Porto are said to be desperate to retain the striker's services for one more season – even labelling him 'untouchable' – but could have their hand forced if the Old Trafford side is willing to go all-in.

It would be a shock for United to fork out such a large sum for a striker while also trying to push Barcelona's asking price for Frenkie de Jong down to a more palatable number.

The Sun is also reporting Ajax winger Antony is a serious target for former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, Goal claims that they are hoping to convince Christian Eriksen to sign on as well, and Corriere dello Sport believe they are investigating the possibility of landing Tammy Abraham.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal have reportedly become the favourites to land Leeds United winger Raphinha as Barcelona's interest in the Brazilian cools off, according to Goal.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Chelsea have joined the race for Everton striker Richarlison, with Tottenham also in the bidding for the £50m man.

– According to Sky Sports, West Ham are planning a £30m bid for 20-year-old striker Armando Broja, who scored nine goals for Southampton last season while on loan from Chelsea.

Nottingham Forest are trying to break their club-record transfer fee to sign 24-year-old Nigerian striker Taiyo Awoniyi for £17.5m from German side Union Berlin, per the Telegraph, although Football Insider claims Awoniyi will turn them down in favour of other offers.

– Calciomercato is reporting Kalidou Koulibaly will not join Juventus because he does not want to be considered a "traitor" like Gonzalo Higuain after his move to Turin – instead favouring a move to Barcelona.

Raphael Varane cannot be held solely responsible for his struggles since joining Manchester United last year, says former Red Devils defender Rio Ferdinand.

According to Ferdinand, United's "zero functionality" organisation under managers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick was a crucial factor behind the 2018 World Cup winner's poor first season in England.

Now the United backline could be set for an important overhaul under new boss Erik ten Hag, Ferdinand believes.

Four-time Champions League winner Varane played 29 times in his debut season with United after arriving from Real Madrid, contributing to just six clean sheets as the Red Devils posted their worst Premier League points tally (58), finishing sixth.

Only four teams – relegated duo Norwich City (six) and Watford (four) as well as Leeds United (five) and Leicester City (seven) – kept fewer than the eight Premier League clean sheets managed by United last term.

While Ferdinand noted Varane has not performed to an elite level at Old Trafford, he hit out at United's lack of structure last season, comparing it to that of a youth team.

"I think he went from one team [Madrid], [where] the honours tell you it was a functioning team, functioning at the top level, with all the players playing to the maximum consistently," Ferdinand told his YouTube channel FIVE.

"He's then gone to an absolute reverse situation where the team has zero functionality, no confidence, no guidance and no structure. Going in there, he's probably going, 'I have not seen this since youth football'.

"To go from that world-class culture to what he's in with United is a huge shift, and he's like a rabbit in the headlights.

"He hasn't been the player we expected him to be when he came here, he would tell you that, and he'll be saying, 'I've got to up my level next year, I need help, I need my team-mates'.

"You need team-mates to be the best; [whether you are, Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Zinedine] Zidane, Ronaldinho, these players do not do what they do without their team-mates."

The appointment of former Ajax boss Ten Hag has raised hopes of an improved campaign next time around, with United expected to make significant efforts to bolster their squad in the transfer window.

Ajax defender Jurrien Timber is one player to have been heavily linked with United in recent weeks, and Ferdinand believes the club's new boss will want to make changes to the Red Devils' leaky backline.

"I'm interested to see what Ten Hag does in that area," he added. "They're talking about the young lad at Ajax, Timber, who's a centre-half, a small centre-half.

"I'll be interested to see what happens with Varane, [Victor] Lindelof, [Harry] Maguire, and Eric Bailly as well. I think one or two of them are going to go."

United's tally of 57 Premier League goals conceded last season was their worst on record in the competition, while they also failed to record a positive goal difference for the first time since the 1989-90 season.

Richard Arnold sought to explain Manchester United's plans as he met supporters who intended to protest outside his house on Saturday.

Arnold, who was named United's chief executive in February, was filmed discussing a number of topics relating to the club with fans in a pub. The videos were posted to Twitter.

Those present had been planning a protest, but Arnold instead went to meet them and bought drinks, United confirmed.

A club spokesperson told Sky Sports News: "Richard Arnold heard that a group of fans had gathered in a pub near his house.

"He went to meet them, bought them all a drink, listened to their views and explained what the club is doing to deliver success on the pitch, improve the stadium and strengthen engagement with fans."

The video footage appeared to show Arnold being quizzed on a wide range of topics, including United's pursuit of Frenkie de Jong.

He said the club had "burned through cash", but "the money the manager and director of football want is there".

Erik ten Hag, De Jong's former Ajax coach, is now the man in charge, having replaced Ralf Rangnick at the end of a season Arnold would seemingly rather forget.

"It was a nightmare," the CEO told fans. "I was hating every game."

Raphael Varane is excited by the prospect of Manchester United making a "new start" under Erik ten Hag, with the 2018 World Cup winner hoping to enjoy a more successful second season at Old Trafford.

Four-time European champion Varane left Real Madrid to join United last August, but he endured a frustrating campaign as the Red Devils struggled to a sixth-placed finish after replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Ralf Rangnick.

Varane made 29 appearances in all competitions during his first season with United, only contributing to six clean sheets as the side finished with their lowest Premier League points tally yet (58).

But the appointment of former Ajax coach Ten Hag has raised hopes United can improve next term, and Varane has spoken of the squad's eagerness to work with the Dutchman.

"It's a new season, it's a new start, so everyone is excited to know about the new manager," he told the club's media channels.

"Obviously, we want to do well and win every game so, for this, we'll have to prepare for the new season, and I think it’s important for us to train hard and be ready."

United will open their 2022-23 Premier League campaign at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7, but they will first embark on a pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.

United's first outing under Ten Hag will see them meet old rivals Liverpool in Thailand on July 12, and Varane says the team's pre-season work will prove crucial if they are to hit the ground running next term.

"We want to be ready for the new season," he continued. "We need to work very hard and there will be a lot of training sessions and a lot of games, so I think it will be interesting and a great moment to work very hard and to prepare for the season.

"I think it’s a different atmosphere, it's pre-season, so we have to get fit, we have to prepare.

"I think it's always exciting to play in front of our fans around the world, it's a good experience for us, and it's a good moment to prepare for the season."

Manchester United must start being active in the transfer market amid links to the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Christopher Nkunku, otherwise they risk failing to rebuild under Erik ten Hag.

That is the message from United great and television pundit Gary Neville, who warned that late transfer activity will only make Ten Hag's task tougher.

Ten Hag faces a sizeable rebuilding job after inhering a United side that finished with their lowest ever points tally in the 2021-22 Premier League campaign.

The Red Devils also failed to end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero) for the first time since the 1989-90 season.

Paul Pogba is heading for the exit door at the end of June when his contract expires, along with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, as Ten Hag looks to leave his mark at Old Trafford.

Reports have linked United to numerous players, such as Nkunku, De Jong and Christian Eriksen, while Ten Hag's former Ajax players Jurrien Timber and Antony have also been floated as options.

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice and Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres may appear more far-fetched options, but Neville says United must get to business otherwise their already difficult task will become even harder.

 

"The others seem set and ready, yet United can't get moving," Neville wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

"[Ten Hag] needs his group together [as soon as possible] to mould them. Bringing them in late will only make it harder for him. [Fingers crossed] it happens soon!"

Ten Hag will hope to have a busy transfer window ahead of the first Premier League game of the 2022-23 season when United will host Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

It will be the Dutchman's first competitive game in charge of the Red Devils, who will play their opening top-flight match at home for a sixth straight season – the longest current run of any Premier League side.

Manchester City and Liverpool will come straight out of Champions League midweek action into the fire of a Premier League showdown in October.

After battling to the final day of the 2021-22 campaign in a title tussle that City edged, few would be surprised to see Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp's teams again battling it out for supremacy.

Chelsea, no longer owned by Roman Abramovich, will look to stake a claim, while Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal will hope to improve on last season's efforts.

A host of early season games catch the eye, perhaps none more than the Old Trafford clash between Manchester United and Liverpool on August 20.

Liverpool twice outclassed United last season, but it could be a different story now Erik ten Hag has moved into the Red Devils top job. The former Ajax head coach would make a major early statement if his team can deliver on that day

Here, Stats Perform looks at key games in the new season, after the fixtures were released on Thursday.


Chelsea v Tottenham - August 13

After a tricky opener at Everton, Chelsea face Tottenham in their first Stamford Bridge game of the campaign. It will mean Antonio Conte again returning to the club where he was a Premier League and FA Cup winner, looking to give Spurs an early season lift.

Chelsea will be a team to keep close tabs on in the post-Abramovich era, and last season's third-placed finishers will have an early examination of their credentials against the side who snatched fourth in May. These two are likely to be battling to finish as London's top team again, but could either finish any higher than third in the table this time around?

Newcastle United v Manchester City - August 20

Are Newcastle United going to pose any threat to the top six? This fixture might give us an indication.

Eddie Howe's side will have home advantage against the champions, and the Saudi-backed Magpies, thrashed 5-0 and 4-0 by City last season, must show greater defiance this time around.

Manchester United v Liverpool - August 20

Games against Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford will mark Erik ten Hag's introduction to the Premier League. Going on last season's evidence, there is no guarantee United will breeze through those assignments, but they will hope to have banked six points by the time they encounter Liverpool, their fiercest rivals.

Jurgen Klopp's side walloped United 5-0 and 4-0 in the 2021-22 campaign, underlining the gulf in class between the two squads, and Ten Hag surely cannot afford such a similar morale-draining outcome this time.

Everton v Liverpool - September 3

Derby day. Will Frank Lampard's Everton kick on after the relief of avoiding relegation last term, or can Klopp's Reds follow last season's league double with another win at Goodison Park?

Anything other than a Liverpool victory would be a major surprise, of course, as Lampard battles to make his mark on Merseyside.

Manchester City v Tottenham - September 10

Sandwiched between the first two rounds of Champions League group games, this cheeky little number is one to watch. Tottenham did the league double over City last season, inflicting two of their three defeats in the competition.

Pep Guardiola will know what damage the likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski can inflict, but can he stop those lethal Spurs counter-attacks this time?

Derby double: Arsenal v Tottenham, Manchester City v Manchester United - October 1

This promises to be quite some weekend, with north London and Manchester bragging rights up for grabs. Tottenham's 3-0 win over Arsenal in May paved the way for Spurs to pip their neighbours to a place in the Champions League, which left the Gunners hurting. In the north west, United barely threatened a top-four finish last term, and it is hard to see how Ten Hag mounts any sort of challenge to City's supremacy in the new campaign.

There was a 35-point gap between the sides at the end of the season, and it is essential that United at least get much closer. Games such as these can be catalysts for change, or they can be an opportunity for a side such as City to show their teeth and inflict more damage. Both return games are scheduled for January 14.

Liverpool v Manchester City - October 15

After the fourth round of Champions League group games in midweek, Liverpool and City switch their combined focus to this Anfield heavyweight battle. They are scheduled to play again on April 1, but this tussle on Merseyside provides the first Premier League meeting of the season between the title favourites.

Both league games finished 2-2 last season between these sides, while Liverpool sank City's hopes in the FA Cup semi-finals, only to miss out on the Premier League title after final-day high drama.

Could new recruits Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez make their mark on the hottest fixture on the calendar?

Nottingham Forest v Liverpool - October 22

A welcome return to the top-flight calendar for a classic fixture. Forest were a major force in the English game for many years, and a 23-year absence from the Premier League has made the heart grow fonder.

This City Ground game will stir up memories of Brian Clough's sides going head-to-head with those of Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish, and the classic games that ensued. Forest are unlikely to threaten the top six in the new campaign, but their presence among the elite again under Steve Cooper's assured leadership could see them serve up one or two big shocks.

Chelsea v Manchester City - January 2

The World Cup puts the Premier League campaign on hold for six weeks in mid-season, with a December 26 resumption soon followed by this meaty match-up.

By this point of the season, it should be reasonably clear which direction these teams are heading towards, and there can be no Qatar 2022 hangover for the players.

City took 1-0 wins home and away last season when these sides met in the league. Their second clash of the 2022-23 campaign comes on the penultimate weekend, pencilled in for May 20, and that could turn out to be even more significant than this contest.

Arsenal v Manchester United - January 21

Nobody expects Arsenal or United to win the Premier League this season. The Gunners have not lifted the trophy since their 2003-04 'Invincibles' season, while United were last champions in 2012-13.

Expect a barren decade in the competition to be completed for the Red Devils, but also expect an improvement under Ten Hag's leadership. This fixture carries a slowly diminishing cachet, but the prospect of Mikel Arteta and Ten Hag jostling for position in and around the Champions League places means it could be a massive moment in the season for these flagging yet still proud giants. They also meet in early September, but the stakes will be higher come this contest.

Erik ten Hag's bid to guide Manchester United to a new era of Premier League success will begin with the visit of Brighton and Hove Albion.

The top-flight title has eluded United since 2013, with Ten Hag the fifth permanent manager since Alex Ferguson's departure that year.

After hosting Graham Potter's Seagulls on the opening day, United head to Brentford before hosting rivals Liverpool.

The first Manchester derby of the campaign will take place at the Etihad Stadium on October 1, with the champions heading to Old Trafford on January 14.

Ten Hag will take his charges to Anfield in March and close the season by welcoming newly promoted Fulham.

A potentially favourable festive period, following on from the World Cup in Qatar, sees United host Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day, head to Wolves on New Year's Eve, and entertain Bournemouth in their first game of 2023.

Manchester United's 2022-23 fixtures in full:

07/08/2022 - Brighton and Hove Albion (h)
13/08/2022 - Brentford (a)
20/08/2022 - Liverpool (h)
27/08/2022 - Southampton (a)
30/08/2022 - Leicester City (a)
03/09/2022 - Arsenal (h)
10/09/2022 - Crystal Palace (a)
17/09/2022 - Leeds United (h)
01/10/2022 - Manchester City (a)
08/10/2022 - Everton (a)
15/10/2022 - Newcastle United (h)
19/10/2022 - Tottenham (h)
22/10/2022 - Chelsea (a)
29/10/2022 - West Ham (h)
05/11/2022 - Aston Villa (a)
12/11/2022 - Fulham (a)
26/12/2022 - Nottingham Forest (h)
31/12/2022 - Wolves (a)
02/01/2023 - Bournemouth (h)
14/01/2023 - Manchester City (h)
21/01/2023 - Arsenal (a)
04/02/2023 - Crystal Palace (h)
11/02/2023 - Leeds United (a)
18/02/2023 - Leicester City (h)
25/02/2023 - Brentford (h)
04/03/2023 - Liverpool (a)
11/03/2023 - Southampton (h)
18/03/2023 - Brighton and Hove Albion (a) 
01/04/2023 - Newcastle United (a)
08/04/2023 - Everton (h)
15/04/2023 - Nottingham Forest (a)
22/04/2023 - Chelsea (h)
25/04/2023 - Tottenham (a)
29/04/2023 - Aston Villa (h)
06/05/2023 - West Ham (a) 
13/05/2023 - Wolves (h)
20/05/2023 - Bournemouth (a)
28/05/2023 - Fulham (h)

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