Ovechkin in ‘pretty good company’ with ninth 50-goal season
After months of speculation, Manchester United have confirmed that 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 to do when he arrives this summer, with the Red Devils looking unlikely to qualify for the Champions League after struggling under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick this season.
Top of Ten Hag’s to-do list will be deciding who of the current squad will be fit to play his possession-based style of football.
Here, Stats Perform uses data powered by Opta to provide insight into three players who could impress under the Dutchman, and three who could see their days numbered after his arrival…
Who could play under Ten Hag?
Donny Van de Beek
An easy choice. Van de Beek rose to stardom under Ten Hag’s tutelage at Ajax and was a driving force behind the Amsterdam giants’ formidable 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 in that famous run, with only Dusan Tadic (six) moving ahead of him for Ajax in the competition .
Having played a paltry 381 minutes for United in 14 appearances this season before being loaned to Everton in January, the 25-year-old seems the most obvious player to benefit from the arrival of his former manager.
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 leaving Borussia Dortmund last summer.
Only Bruno Fernandes (98) has created more open play chances for United this season than Sancho (47), and he will certainly benefit from the arrival of a manager whose teams play with genuine width.
Tadic (15), Antony (12) and Steven Berghuis (11) have each reached double Eredivisie goals for Ajax this season, so their former coach could be the man to make the most of the English man.
Ten Hag’s Ajax side deployed their full-backs as a key attacking threat, with Argentina left-back Nicolas Tagliafico scoring three goals in the 2018-19 Champions League run.
Among Premier League defenders, only Trent Alexander-Arnold has created more than the 72 chances created by Red Devils left-back Shaw in the 2020-21 season, and the England man could rediscover that form if he was unleashed by the new United boss.
Who could see his position threatened?
The United skipper has faced widespread criticism for his role in another poor campaign for the Red Devils, and could be the first major 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 season (three), while his passing accuracy of 86.37% is slightly lower than fellow defenders Raphael Varane ( 87.47) and Victor Lindelof (86.63), potentially marking the England man as ripe for a replacement.
David De Gea
When another possession-hungry manager arrived in Manchester in 2016, one of his first moves was to find a goalkeeper he could trust to participate as his team tried to build from the ground up. ‘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 passing accuracy of just 68.81% in the Premier League this season, far behind elite rivals Ederson (88.35) and Allison (85.22).
Hear us on this one. The striker’s legendary goalscoring prowess remains unrivalled, and his 21 goals in all competitions since returning to Old Trafford last summer puts him far behind his closest teammate (Bruno Fernandes with nine).
However, the pinnacle of Ten Hag’s success at Ajax came with Tadic being used as a false nine in 2018-19, registering 10 goals (six goals, four assists) during their thrilling European run.
Moreover, with Ronaldo’s 140 strikes putting him at the top of the Champions League all-time top scorer chart, can the 37-year-old really be expected to give up playing in the premier competition? European football if United do not qualify? Otherwise, a potentially difficult decision regarding his future could be taken out of Ten Hag’s hands.