Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag previews the Fulham game
Manchester United have been the subject of a flurry of transfer links to the country’s top stars as the summer window edges closer. And there could be a strong reason why Erik ten Hag is reportedly targeting a host of English players to strengthen the squad for his second season in charge.
Ten Hag is said to want a central midfielder and striker as part of his transfer activity this summer.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount, West Ham United’s Declan Rice and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane are among the names currently most heavily linked with an Old Trafford switch.
And it’s no surprise the trio are in Ten Hag’s thinking ahead of the homegrown considerations set to be in play.
Premier League clubs must register a minimum of eight homegrown players in their squad every season.
Players must have spent at least three seasons training with a professional English or Welsh club before turning 21 to meet the criteria.
But United could be short of filling that quota given the expected departures in the summer transfer window.
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Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe will be released on the expiry of their deal in July. Tom Heaton is also out of contract, albeit with the option of a further year.
Nathan Bishop could pursue regular football elsewhere after serving as United’s fourth-choice goalkeeper this season.
Meanwhile, Harry Maguire could highlight departures, with Brandon Williams, Scott McTominay and Anthony Elanga also reportedly in the shop window.
Such an exodus would leave Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford as United’s only homegrown senior players.
Clubs can use youth players to fill the quota, but Ten Hag won’t want to use under-21 players when they don’t need to be registered.
So United’s advancing interest in Mount and prioritising Kane makes sense for a summer in which homegrown signings will be valuable.
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The situation could also be good news for Mason Greenwood, whose Red Devils future remains in limbo amid an ongoing internal investigation.
In February, Greenwood was cleared of all charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault.
But his suspension has continued while United decide if they should re-integrate him or offload him at the end of the season.
Ten Hag’s need for homegrown players could work in Greenwood’s favour while the club weigh up whether he should get the chance to continue his career at Old Trafford.
However, United may not sell all players as planned, which could leave only one or two homegrown spots in need of filling.
And the arrival of a new striker could leave Greenwood better off resuming his development elsewhere regardless.
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