Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are reportedly ready to get ruthless at Manchester United in their first summer transfer window in control of the club’s football operations. Erik ten Hag will have to accept a reduced say in United’s recruitment, with a new sporting structure expected to take the lead at the start of a new dawn at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils’ early reported transfer targets suggest three of Ten Hag’s biggest signings since becoming manager less than two years ago are already under threat of falling down the pecking order.
Express Sport looks at three players claimed to be at the top of United’s wishlist and the current stars their arrivals would directly hamper.
Lisandro Martinez for Jarrad Branthwaite
Lisandro Martinez is arguably Ten Hag’s best signing as United boss, joining from £57million from Ajax in 2022.
The 26-year-old Argentine was one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs in his maiden season before suffering a long-term foot injury that required two surgeries.
But just four games into his return at the start of 2024, Martinez looks set for another spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, sparking concerns of an unwelcome injury proneness.
It leaves Ten Hag without a left-sided centre-back, and reports claim Everton star Jarrad Branthwaite is a top choice in United’s plans to bolster the position this summer.
The 21-year-old is reportedly valued at £100m, which would make him a certain starter if he arrives in M16.
Casemiro for Joao Neves
Unlike Martinez’s injury worries, Casemiro is actually expected to leave United in the summer amid big-money interest in Saudi Arabia.
The Red Devils are expected to cash in on the Brazilian, who turns 32 this month, should a suitable offer arrive from the Middle East or elsewhere.
And they are reportedly convinced that Benfica midfielder Joao Neves would be a perfect addition to an exciting midfield.
United’s need for a holding midfielder has been eased by the emergence of 18-year-old sensation Kobbie Mainoo, who has established himself as an indispensable player.
So Neves, 19, could arrive as Casemiro’s long-term successor without the pressure of having to immediately become a regular starter. That said, he is contracted to Benfica until 2028 and has a hefty £103m release clause.
Antony for Michael Olise
It’s growing increasingly clear that Antony isn’t likely to become a success at Old Trafford, less than two years after Ten Hag splurged £86m to bring him from Ajax.
Alejandro Garnacho has replaced the 23-year-old as United’s first-choice right-winger and could reportedly get some quality competition in the summer.
United are said to have identified Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise, who is claimed to have a new release clause worth £50m, as one of the first targets of the INEOS era but face competition from Manchester City.
The young Frenchman’s arrival would all but spell the end for Antony unless he can turn his Old Trafford career around in the coming months.