Robert Lewandowski has told Bayern Munich he wishes to leave the club and head to Barcelona in the upcoming transfer window – and manager Julian Nagelsmann will reportedly not stand in his way.

Lewandowski, 33, is in the midst of a historic season, averaging more than a goal per game in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. He has 34 goals and three assists in 33 league fixtures, and 13 goals with three assists in his 10 Champions League games.

With his contract set to expire in just over 12 months, there was a feeling Bayern would prefer to hold on to the Polish star to boost their chances in the Champions League instead of cashing in, but that may not be the case.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI PUSHES FOR BARCA MOVE

Crowned The Best FIFA Men's Player two years in a row, and coming off his third consecutive season with at least 34 league goals, Lewandowski's time in Munich appears to be over as Sport reports he has his heart set on a Barcelona move.

Whether motivated by cashing in while the club still can, or simply honouring the wishes of one of the greatest players to ever wear the badge, Nagelsmann is said to be on board with Lewandowski's decision and will try to facilitate the transfer.

The report includes a note that it may be a difficult move for the Spanish giants to pull off financially, although he is likely central to their off-season plans, meaning the club will do everything in their power to prioritise making it happen.

 

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Real Madrid are "more confident than ever" in landing Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe

– According to Mediaset, Chelsea have reached an agreement with Inter's Ivan Perisic to bring the Croatian over on a free transfer, although Fabrizio Romano insists that Perisic has not made up his mind yet.

– Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong will reject any advances from Manchester United and his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, according to the Daily Star.

– Calciomercato claims Paulo Dybala's agent is reportedly in London weighing up offers of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal.

Jude Bellingham will remain with Borussia Dortmund for next season, despite interest from Liverpool and United, according to the Daily Star.

Erik ten Hag says the challenge of getting Manchester United back on track is a "difficult but fantastic one" as the Dutchman prepares to take over at Old Trafford.

United confirmed last month that Ajax head coach Ten Hag will replace interim manager Ralf Rangnick at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

The Red Devils have gone five seasons without winning any silverware and will finish this campaign with their lowest ever Premier League points tally.

Ten Hag will be tasked with bringing an end to that barren spell, while also guiding United back into the top four at the very least.

He told Voetbal International: "It feels like a challenge to put the club back on track of winning. The options are there, including financially.

"I've also got a good feeling about the people who are there, and that we can take a step in the direction."

Ten Hag had previously been unwilling to discuss his new job while still in charge of Ajax, where he has spent the past four and a half years.

But after winning the Eredivisie title with the Dutch giants for a third time this week, Ten Hag has now opened up on his decision to swap Ajax for United.

"I know United went through a very precise procedure," he said. "They'd done scouting, analyses, data, interviews with people who worked with me. Then we held multiple interviews. They didn't rush into things and neither did I.

"It felt like a difficult, but fantastic challenge. At United, there's something to build and something to win. Manchester United is such a big name in the history of football. It's not for nothing they call Old Trafford the Theatre of Dreams.

"It's a club with an allure in international football. Everyone knows their history. The history is impressive, but I've also researched the present and future and the possibilities."

Ten Hag is reported to have met with United football director John Murtough on Thursday to discuss transfer targets, with Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong said to be among them.

Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag and ex-England boss Steve McLaren, who are tipped to join Ten Hag at Old Trafford, were also reportedly at the meeting in Amsterdam.

But while Ten Hag's focus is now on reviving United's fortunes, the 52-year-old insists he was never once distracted when it came to his work with Ajax.

"I was able to separate the interests of the two," he said. "Ajax was never let down. The club got all the attention it needed. I always had matters well prepared and was completely focused on Ajax."

Ajax face Vitesse on Sunday in their final match under Ten Hag, who will be succeeded at the Johan Cruijff ArenA by Club Brugge boss Alfred Schreuder.

Alfred Schreuder will take over from Manchester United-bound Erik ten Hag as Ajax head coach.

Ten Hag will head to Old Trafford at the end of the season, having seen his Ajax team wrap up the Eredivisie title on Wednesday with a 5-0 rout of Heerenveen.

Ajax on Thursday confirmed Ten Hag's replacement, announcing they have reached an agreement with Club Brugge boss Schreuder.

The 49-year-old, who served as Ten Hag's assistant in 2018-19, when Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals, has signed a two-year deal with an option for a third.

Schreuder only joined Belgian side Brugge in January, and is hoping to lead them to glory in the play-offs for the Belgian championship.

 

He coached Hoffenheim in 2019-20, though left in June of that season and linked up with Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, acting as assistant to the former Netherlands boss, who will take charge of the Dutch giants once again following the World Cup later this year.

"Becoming head coach at Ajax is an honour and a great opportunity, that I will grab with both hands," Schreuder said.

"I'm also excited to return here, because I enjoyed the one and a half years I've worked at Ajax very much. I wish to win prizes here in Amsterdam, with a team that plays attractive football. With a good balance between experienced top players and very big talents.

"But first I want to end the season with Club Brugge successfully. I want to say goodbye with a title, that is very important to me and I will do my absolute best to accomplish that."

Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar added: "We know Alfred as a tactically strong trainer with good and versatile exercise material. These last years he has gained experience as a head coach and as assistant coach at top clubs in various countries and competitions."

Erik ten Hag will head to Manchester United as a champion after his Ajax side wrapped up their latest Eredivisie triumph in style on Wednesday.

Ajax have been locked in a tense tussle with PSV for much of this season but headed into the penultimate round of matches knowing victory against Heerenveen would clinch the title.

Ten Hag's men did not disappoint, winning 5-0 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA through goals from Nicolas Tagliafico, Steven Berghuis, Sebastien Haller, Brian Brobbey and Edson Alvarez.

That result made PSV's own 3-2 win against NEC immaterial, with a four-point gap maintained.

It secures Ajax's 36th championship and seventh in the past 11 full seasons, with Ten Hag overseeing three successes. He is the fourth coach to win three or more titles with Ajax.

And Ten Hag's class of 2021-22 made history as they finished with a flourish, winning by five or more goals for a record 10th time this season alone.

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."

Manchester United great David Beckham acknowledged change is required at Old Trafford, but hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will remain part of the Red Devils' future plans.

Ralf Rangnick's United delivered an abject showing in a 4-0 loss at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, meaning the Red Devils have 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.

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag will replace Rangnick at the end of the season, but the Dutchman will be tasked with a sizeable rebuilding job, with numerous players out of contract and several signings required.

Paul Pogba is reportedly a target for neighbours Manchester City when his contract expires in June, while the future of Ronaldo remains under scrutiny as debates continue around the impact of the Portugal forward.

Ronaldo has scored nine of United's last 13 league goals across 11 matches, taking his tally to a club-leading 18 in the Premier League this campaign.

However, questions persist as to the influence the former Real Madrid man has on United's pressing. Nevertheless, Beckham wants Ronaldo to feature as an integral part of Ten Hag's plans next term.

"Obviously Cristiano is one of the best players over the last 15 years, with Leo [Messi]," Beckham told Sky Sports while attending the Miami Grand Prix.

"To see him stay on, hopefully at United, is important for the fans. It's important to him – we all know how much Man United means to him. He's still doing what he does best, scoring goals. That's what Cristiano does.

"To be doing what he's doing at his age is really incredible, so hopefully it continues for another year or two."

Beckham, who won six Premier League titles and a Champions League at United, also knows significant change is required to transform his former side into a competitive force again.

"I think there are changes to be made and changes that are happening, we've seen that," Beckham said.

"It's been a tough end to the season. But it is the end of the season, I'm sure a lot of the fans are thankful of that because it's been a tough one – full of ups and downs.

"The players have done what they can do best, so has the manager. I turned up at the stadium a few months back and every seat was filled so the fans still believe, they support, they turn up for the team.

"It's what United fans do. There's not many teams to have gone through what they've gone through in the last few years and still be filling out their stadium. There will be changes."

Beckham's former team-mate Peter Schmeichel, who made 292 league appearances for United and was a part of the famous treble-winning 1999 side, believes Ten Hag's arrival offers the Red Devils the perfect opportunity to change.

"It's not nice to watch," Schmeichel said before the Formula One event. "It's difficult to understand but also to put a finger on exactly what is wrong.

"We've been struggling since Alex [Ferguson] left the club. We've been spending a lot of money and we've got somewhere, but not far enough.

"With Erik ten Hag coming in now, it is an opportunity for change and I think this is what we want – maybe modernise the club a bit, restructure the club. That is what I'm looking forward to."

Fred Rutten has revealed he rejected the chance to become Erik ten Haag's assistant manager at Manchester United.

Ten Hag was last month confirmed as the successor to interim boss Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford and will officially take charge in the coming weeks.

The current Ajax head coach is assembling his backroom team, but he was unable to persuade Rutten to join him at United.

Rutten will instead join Ruud van Nistelrooy at PSV – one of several former clubs.

"Erik ten Hag has asked me to be his assistant at Manchester United," Rotten said, as quoted by De Telegraaf. "I said no.

"Everyone makes his own choices in life. I have a family, I have grandchildren that I want to see. This type of project, I felt uncomfortable with it."

Rutten, who employed Ten Hag as his assistant at both Twente and PSV, added: "At Manchester United you get on a train and you can't get off it. I want to feel comfortable in something you step into. That is the case with PSV. 

"It's nice when you have grandchildren, who you see every now and then and who can play ball with."

Former United striker Robin van Persie, ex-Red Devils coach Steve McClaren and Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag are other reported candidates to work as Ten Haag's right-hand man.

Erik ten Hag says questions about the future of Cristiano Ronaldo and other Manchester United stars are "for the future" as he focuses on attempting to see Ajax over the line in the Eredivisie title race.

It was confirmed last month Ten Hag will be the replacement for interim boss Ralf Rangnick from next season.

The long-term future of Portugal superstar Ronaldo, who signed on for a second spell at Old Trafford from Juventus back in August, has been shrouded in doubt despite the fact he has another year on his contract, with an option to extend for a third season, and has contributed 18 Premier League goals for a United side that has badly underperformed this season.

Reports in the British media suggested Dutchman Ten Hag wants Ronaldo to be a part of his plans next term, but when asked about the prospect of working with the 37-year-old at a news conference previewing Ajax's clash with AZ, he kept his cards pressed firmly to his chest.

"They are questions for the future and not in this moment," he said.

"I want to answer questions about Ajax, we are in an important race, and an important week. I want to focus on Ajax and not on Manchester United."

There have been rumours Ten Hag could look to take some of his Ajax squad with him to Old Trafford, with Sebastien Haller, Antony, and Jurrien Timber among those linked with a switch.

Ten Hag denied suggestions any deals are in place, though.

"No, there are no agreements about that," he added. "I now have very good players, but it's not an issue at all."

Anthony Elanga is eager at the prospect of working under Erik ten Hag when he eventually takes over as manager at Manchester United.

Despite a turbulent season that saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dismissed in November, the 20-year-old Elanga has progressed under his interim replacement, Ralf Rangnick.

Elanga was not in a first-team squad in the Premier League this season until Rangnick's arrival and since then has made 19 league appearances.

However, Ten Hag's football with Ajax has Elanga excited with what he can bring to Old Trafford.

"You can see the way Ajax are playing in Europe," he told Sky Sports. "He's a great manager with a fantastic record in Europe. I've seen how good he is with developing young players, so that's one of the reasons I'm really excited to work with him.

"Obviously we're focused on finishing the season strongly, but we're also feeling very, very positive about next year. His experience in Europe, developing young players like myself and we've got other young players coming up. He'll bring exciting football to Old Trafford.

"It all starts from pre-season and how we take in his instructions and tactics. He'll be a great addition to the club and I'm really, really excited to work with him."

Elanga has started to establish himself at United, with 25 appearances in all competitions this season, claiming three goals and two assists in that time.

The attacker believes the difficulty of this campaign at Old Trafford, that will likely result in a failure to qualify for the Champions League, has still provided him an important learning experience.

"Playing 25 games for the first team and making my international debut, I've personally learnt a huge amount," Elanga said.

"Despite what's happened this season, I still feel I've learnt a lot and I'm ready to take my game to the next level next season."

Manchester United will next face Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Erik ten Hag may be a "perfect match" for Manchester United, according to former Ajax defender Joel Veltman.

Ten Hag will leave his role as Ajax head coach to take over from interim United manager Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.

The Dutchman faces a significant rebuilding job, with United only sixth in the Premier League and set to miss out on Champions League football after falling short of expectations again this season, and having not won a trophy in five years.

However, Veltman – who moved from Ajax to Brighton and Hove Albion in 2020 – is optimistic for the Red Devils, having played under Ten Hag in the Eredivisie and believing his appointment could be "the most important thing" the club has done.

"I think it's a good choice only because he's tactically really good, and I think that's the most important thing that they need right now," Veltman said to Sky Sports.

"They have the major players, every player showed already they are amazing and can perform well in this league at the highest level, so they just need a gaffer who is like, 'Guys, you have to do this, this and this.' He needs time of course, but I think he's probably the perfect match.

"Hopefully he will make a team of them. Like OK if you go there, I will go here. Like a harmonica they call it in Holland so it's like not loose ends any more, so hopefully he will do that next season."

Veltman is set to face United on Saturday as Brighton host the Manchester club in the Premier League, and did add a word of warning that they should not expect an immediate rise under his former boss.

"He came from Ajax, next season to United, so he did it step by step, and he is still learning," said the 30-year-old.

"You are still learning every game, but he is still learning as well I think. Hopefully he will get the time, and he can get to show the players, directors, everybody and the fans that he is the guy and of course he needs results.

"As a gaffer you need results and hopefully they will come to him, but I think it will be fine actually."

Raphael Varane pledged Manchester United will improve on their disappointing season in a new era under Erik ten Hag.

Varane scored his first Red Devils goal in a 3-0 Premier League win over Brentford on Monday, but has endured a largely frustrating first season in England following his move from Real Madrid.

The 29-year-old has made 28 appearances in all competitions this season, 25 of them starts, but has been involved in just six clean sheets with United looking certain to miss out on Champions League qualification ahead of the imminent arrival of new boss Ten Hag

United have gone five years without winning a major trophy, but Varane, who featured as Madrid were humbled 4-1 by Ten Hag's Ajax team in the Champions League at the Bernabeu in March 2019, is expecting a better showing next term.

"Personally, it's been an amazing experience, the feeling of being a player at Manchester United is something special," the France centre-back told MUTV of his first campaign with the club.

"I'm always positive, I think the next season will be better.

"This season was something irregular, we will work to be ready to win trophies and do our best over the next few months."

The signing of the 2018 World Cup winner was announced on the opening day of the Premier League season, and Varane predicted he would benefit from having a full pre-season under his belt in the 2022-23 campaign.

"I hope to do a full pre-season, to be fit to help the team as much as possible. I want to do my best for this club and the fans," he added.

Varane's team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo has scored nine of United's last 12 Premier League goals after netting the team's second against the Bees, and the defender was keen to hail the 37-year-old forward.

"It's fantastic, he's a great professional, and I think his talent is amazing, if he is on the pitch he will score goals, it's crazy," Varane added.

"Even with his age, he has the hunger and with his talent he can help the team."

Cristiano Ronaldo's presence has been "one of the most positive things" in Manchester United's disappointing season, according to Diogo Dalot, who is looking forward to working with the "outstanding" Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo has scored 23 goals and provided three assists in 36 appearances in all competitions since returning to Old Trafford at the start of the season, and has scored eight of the Red Devils past nine Premier League goals.

However, United sit sixth in the Premier League after enduring a frustrating season under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, and have gone five years without winning a trophy.

Despite the team's struggles, Dalot hailed the impact made by his club and Portugal team-mate.

"I'm sure I speak not just for me, but he's been one of the most positive things about this season," Dalot told Sky Sports. "To work with somebody who has his culture of working, his professionalism, his mentality and being close to him now... it's been very helpful for me and my career.

"The numbers are there, the stats are there, so we're obviously very happy to have him here. He's a very friendly person. When he feels he has the trust of other people, he gives 100 per cent of himself to you.

"Everybody gets along with him here, everyone likes to have him around. It's always a big plus to have a player and a person like this in the changing room."

The Red Devils face Brentford in their final home game of the Premier League season on Monday, with Ronaldo looking to add to a staggering 24 goal contributions (18 goals, six assists) in his past 18 games against newly-promoted sides in the competition. 

United are hoping the imminent arrival of Ajax boss Ten Hag will end a turbulent era for the club, and Dalot says the squad are excited by the prospect of adapting to the Dutchman's possession-based style.

"I don't think you need to see a lot to know that he is a great manager. What he's done with Ajax is something outstanding," Dalot added. "He plays very attractive football, I think every fan of United is excited to have a manager like this, and the players are as well.

"In our heads, it's going to be clear who the manager will be next season, and that's good because we go for our break knowing who to expect. Then we will have time in pre-season to work together, get our ideas right and start the new season."

Despite United's struggles, Dalot also says he has enjoyed this season on a personal level after making 27 appearances across all competitions, one more than fellow right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has struggled to adapt to Rangnick's high-pressing style.

Having received five caps for Portugal to date, Dalot also hoped his increased game time would boost his chances of featuring at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

"It's difficult to say it's been a good season when the results are not quite there as we expected, but individually it's been good in terms of playing much more," he added. "Playing regularly has been one of my biggest desires since I came here, and I've fought very hard to get it.

"It's been good, with more minutes than other seasons, so I'm very happy with that. But obviously I want to combine that with team performances, with trophies and that's the aim for the next seasons.

"I like to see it season by season. This season has been special because I've played more regularly here, getting into the first team with the national team and we qualified for the World Cup.

"I want to be there so these are the aims, but we still have three games to play, national team games at the end of the season, so there's no point looking too much ahead when we have some goals to achieve at the end of the season."

Ralf Rangnick is optimistic it will not take too long for Manchester United to become a force again in a new era under Erik ten Hag.

Ten Haag will leave his role as Ajax head coach to take over from interim United manager Rangnick at the end of the season.

The Dutchman faces a rebuilding job, with United only sixth in the Premier League and set to miss out on Champions League football after falling short of expectations again this season.

It is five years since the 20-time champions of England last won a trophy and Rangnick previously stated that the club need "open-heart surgery" in order to turn their fortunes around

Rangnick, who will take over as Austria coach but is due to remain at Old Trafford in a consultancy role, says he has not yet spoken to Ten Hag since the Ajax coach was appointed as his successor.

Ahead of Monday's Premier League encounter with Brentford, the 63-year-old told Sky Sports: "I'm pretty sure he's [Ten Hag] got my phone number!

"He's got another couple of games to play with Ajax, we have another three games to play here. Whenever he wants to speak with me and exchange our opinions, I'm more than happy to do that."

Rangnick believes the next man to take the United hotseat can be successful in the not-too-distant future if the club learn from their mistakes and recruit wisely.

He added: "Knowing Erik will be the manager, with a good recruitment process and bringing in the right players, I'm very positive the supporters and the media will be able to see a better team and, at the end, hopefully a better position in the league.

"There are quite a few good examples in the league with when Jurgen Klopp came to Liverpool, Pep Guardiola to Manchester City, Thomas Tuchel came to Chelsea – yes, he came in the middle of the season and inherited a top-quality squad, but you still need to win the Champions League.

"If you know what you're looking for, the profiles of the different positions you need, it shouldn't hopefully take too long."

Rangnick has no idea what part Cristiano Ronaldo will play under Ten Hag, though.

He added: "This is a question you need to ask Erik ten Hag.

"He's showed that he can still be a vital part of this team, but it's obvious the team needs some more strikers. There should be two or three new strikers next season, it's pretty obvious."

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has Benfica striker Darwin Nunez at the top of his shopping list in the upcoming transfer window.

The Uruguayan striker is in the midst of a breakout season in both Portugal and Europe, scoring 25 goals in 24 Primeira Liga fixtures, and a Benfica-record six Champions League goals in 10 appearances.

Darwin finished his Champions League campaign by scoring a goal in three consecutive games, including in back-to-back fixtures against Liverpool.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS MAKE DARWIN NUMBER-ONE TARGET

Fichajes and Calcio In Pillole reporter Ekrem Konur claims United have made Darwin their priority target, stating he is "at the top of Erik ten Hag's short transfer list" and they are "considering paying" his release clause.

ESPN has also said United are "leading the chase" for the striker though they face competition from Arsenal, and reported along with The Sun that the 22-year-old's release clause is in the region of €150million.

As well as Darwin, Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Juventus' Paulo Dybala, who will be a free agent, are also serious targets management would like to bring to Old Trafford.

ROUND-UP

– Marca is reporting that Barcelona will turn to Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku as their "plan C" after failing to land Erling Haaland or Robert Lewandowski.

– According to The Express, Arsenal are willing to listen to offers of £25m for Nicolas Pepe after signing him for a club-record £72m in 2019. West Ham are said to be one of the Premier League teams interested.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that Manchester City are focused on extending Phil Foden's contract until 2027.

– Leeds United midfielder and England international Kalvin Phillips will change his agent as he looks to secure a move away from the club, with the Manchester Evening News reporting that United will be in the box seat.

– Todofichajes is claiming that Arsenal have agreed a £50m deal for City striker Gabriel Jesus.

Ralf Rangnick says his consultancy role at Manchester United will see him focus on recruitment and has highlighted the need for the Red Devils to target younger players in the upcoming transfer window.

Rangnick will step aside from his interim manager role at the end of this season, with Ajax boss Erik ten Hag taking over at the end of a difficult campaign in which United look certain to miss out on Champions League qualification.

It was confirmed on Friday that Rangnick is taking over as head coach of the Austrian national team, although he remains committed to his new role with the Red Devils.

Rangnick said his position will see him focus on recruiting young, talented players who can help Ten Hag's United develop into one of European football's leading sides.

The 63-year-old namechecked Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, whom he helped bring to Salzburg, as an example of the profile of player the Red Devils must target, and stressed he is "positive" about the team's future under "one of the best coaches in Europe" in Ten Hag.

"For me the most important bit is recruitment now, this is, for me, the most vital point, that we bring in the best possible players," he said.

"It's not only about identifying those players, also meeting them, convincing them to join this club even though we will not be playing in the Champions League.

"This is what I see as the most important bit, also with regard to top talented players for the academy, identifying those players. This is for me, for the next one or two years, an important part. My personal opinion is the club should try to find future top star players and try to develop them. 

"Haaland is a young player, but on the other hand, he has developed in the last two years into one of the most expensive strikers in the world. He could be of one of those examples where the focus should be, to identify and find players who could be Manchester United players for the next couple of years.

"We just need to look at the other top clubs in England and in some other countries, what kind of players did they sign in the past? I think then you get the answer yourself.

"I'm positive. With Erik ten Hag, Manchester United will have one of the best coaches in Europe, and then it's about, together with him, recruitment. If those things come together, I'm very positive you can see a different kind of team with a different style of football."

Meanwhile, with a host of out-of-contract players likely to depart Old Trafford at the end of the campaign, including Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Edinson Cavani, Rangnick said the Red Devils will require "quite a few" new signings to compete next term, but insisted Old Trafford remains a desirable destination for players.

"It's obvious that the club and the team needs more players, some players are out of contract, some are not available anymore, and some might want to get more game time [elsewhere]," he added.

"The club needs quite a few new players. For me, it's important the club recruits those kind of players that can help Manchester United develop into one of the top teams again.

"As a club, with regard to the supporters, the stadium, the training ground, yes, it definitely is [still a club players would want to join]. 

"But we also have to be realistic, as soon as other clubs like Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City are involved, then you need some good reasons to explain to the players [why they should join]."

United play their final home game of the Premier League season against Brentford on Monday, their first home clash with the Bees in any competition since a 2-1 League Cup win in September 1975.

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