Erik ten Hag: Man Utd boss says club must invest if they want to remain in Premier League’s top four

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United must invest if they want to remain in the top four of the Premier League.

Ten Hag has taken United back into the Champions League at the first time of asking, while also winning the Carabao Cup and setting up an FA Cup final against Manchester City.

But the manager was limited to just three loan signings in the January transfer window and, after beating Fulham 2-1 on the final day of the season, United have finished the campaign 14 points behind champions City.

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Speaking after the Premier League season came to an end, Ten Hag said: “The club knows that if you want to play top four, if you want to compete for trophies in this tough league, you have to invest, otherwise you won’t progress because other clubs will.

“We saw it in the winter. All the clubs around us invested. We didn’t and still we made it. So I am really happy and proud of my team.”

United were one of just five Premier League sides not to spend in January, and the only one of those clubs that ended the campaign in the European places.

Ten Hag was supported in his first window, with more than £225m spent on six new players, including Antony, who cost £86m when being signed from the manager’s former club Ajax.

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Ten Hag’s comments come amid uncertainty over who will be United’s owners going forward, with the Glazer family – who have owned the club since 2005 – entertaining offers.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatari businessman, are the two parties keen on completing a takeover, which could cost more than £5bn.

Speaking to Sky Sports earlier this week, Ten Hag said United would be able to move for their key transfer targets this summer if there was no change in the ownership situation.

Ten Hag said: “I think so. I came in here [at the end of] last season and we talked about what can we do in the squad, what can we do in transfers.

“Last year, the club confirmed they can do. So, for me, I don’t think anything changed and yes, in this summer period we can do the same.”

Keane excited by Kane but not Mount

Image: United are interested in signing Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Mason Mount

Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Mason Mount are on Manchester United’s transfer shortlist this summer but it is unlikely they will sign all three.

United are in the market for a striker and it is thought their No 1 target is Kane. United have a long-standing interest in the striker but Tottenham do not want to sell and he is contracted to them until next summer.

Rice will be allowed to leave West Ham for the right price this summer but Arsenal are his most likely destination at the moment. Mount has a year left on his contract and Chelsea still want him to sign a new deal.

“The one that would excite me is Kane,” responded Sky Sports’ Roy Keane.

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Mason Mount took time to walk around an empty Stamford Bridge after Chelsea’s final game of the season – was he saying goodbye?

“Mount has gone off the boil a little bit. He’s got qualities and I’ve raved about him before but has gone missing in the last year or two with one or two injuries. He can’t get in a bad Chelsea team. I wouldn’t be hanging my hat on him on improving Manchester United. Rice would improve United, that would be a decent signing.

“But in terms of excitement and the goals it would be Kane but can you see Spurs selling to Manchester United? Very difficult.”

Ratcliffe remains lead bidder for Man Utd

Ineos billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe remains the leading candidate to buy Manchester United despite an inconclusive board meeting held late last week.

Sky News understands directors of the Premier League club’s holding company met on Thursday to discuss the progress of its £5bn-plus auction.

Controlled by members of the Glazer family but also comprising a number of independent directors, the board was updated on the sale process by Raine, the merchant bank advising United.

A source close to the auction said the directors did not opt to enter into exclusive negotiations with either Ineos Sports or its principal rival, the Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Ratcliffe is proposing to buy a majority stake in United which would leave two of the Glazers involved, while Sheikh Jassim wants to buy the club outright.

The source said that Ineos remained the “leading” bidder despite a further, improved offer from the Nine Two Foundation – Sheikh Jassim’s bid vehicle – earlier this month.

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