One through the door and plenty more to follow will be the hope of Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman’s pursuit of Mason Mount finally ended in success after a back-and-forth with Chelsea. It’s an important capture for Ten Hag, who was desperate to bring in the England international to inject his midfield with energy, quality and youthfulness.
Next on the list is a striker and a goalkeeper – with Inter Milan goalkeeper Andre Onana the leading candidate to become summer addition number two at Old Trafford. The former Ajax man, just like Mount, is said to keen on joining United this summer and testing himself in the Premier League next season – wearing red.
A club of United’s size and stature should never struggle attracting players, but after too many years of punching below their weight the challenge began to get tougher. It was something Ten Hag spotted in his first summer at the club – though United did bring quality through the door in Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, Antony, Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen.
“There were a lot of reservations last year, when I spoke with players,” said Ten Hag in May. “And now many players see the project: what’s going on, the dynamic, the ambition, the quality especially. They are really keen to come, I’ve noticed that. It looks like there were a lot of reservations last year; a lot of doubts when we approached players. This year, many quality players really want to come.”
It is the ideal scenario for any manager and for Ten Hag, a major boost as he looks to progress United further in 2023/24 and build on last season’s third placed finish. With the takeover uncertainty casting a grey cloud over a vital transfer window for United, Ten Hag should take great pride in attracting the calibre of player he is. It speaks volumes of his first 12 months’ work in Manchester – and how it is being viewed on the outside.
The signature of Mount is a huge feather in the cap of Ten Hag, who has prised a boyhood blue away from Stamford Bridge at 24 years old. Yet to enter the prime years of his career, Mount could – just as Ten Hag told him on signing day – become a very important player in his team. His emotional goodbye to Chelsea shows just how great the pull of United was this summer.
Upon signing, Mount said: “It’s never easy leaving the club where you grew up, but Manchester United will provide an exciting new challenge for the next phase of my career. Several months ago, it became clear I wasn’t in Chelsea’s plans going forward, and once I knew United were involved, my decision was made up. Massive club, huge iconic players that have played here, and I wanted to be part of that from the beginning.”
Ten Hag sent supporters an encouraging message back in May and backed up his words with action. It’s only the start, but United are off the mark and must now move forward with confidence and determination.