Erik ten Hag eager to fix Manchester United midfield – ESPN’s Insider Notebook has the latest. PLUS: Kylian Mbappe’s confidence in Real Madrid.
Go to: Mbappe hopes for Madrid amid PSG pressure | Conti eyes spending spree | Ten Hag Surprise Leipzig |
Ten Hag is targeting Chomini
Sources told ESPN that Eric Ten Hag, who is set to take over at Manchester United, is keen to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Chuamini.
Ten Hag discussed his thoughts on the United squad as part of his job interview at Old Trafford last month and official confirmation of his appointment could come as early as the end of April.
United’s recruitment department has also finalized the shortlists of players at each position for the summer transfer window, and will allow Tin Hag to deliver on his own. Among them is Chuamini, a 22-year-old midfielder who is enjoying a fantastic season in Ligue 1 Ligue 1. Chuamini was initially influenced under former Monaco coach Niko Kovac and raised his playing level further under Philippe Clement, following his arrival in January.
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Monaco are open to negotiations over their rising star’s move this summer and will ask for a transfer fee of 60-70 million euros. Sources told ESPN that PSG are interested in the Frenchman but added that in the current situation he would prefer to stay away from France. Chelsea have also made contact with Chuamini’s and Monaco’s agent but United may have the upper hand over their Premier League rivals given the uncertainty over the club’s ownership at the moment.
Chwamini can play in every position in midfield – from holding position to more box-to-box position – and that versatility is what appeals to Ten Hag.
Incoming coach Paul Pogba, who is set to leave the club at the end of his contract this summer, is likely to lose, while there are question marks over the futures of several players at Old Trafford. Among them is Eric Bailey, who is looking to leave, according to sources. The defender has not started a game since December and has been left out of the squad for the tour by interim coach Ralf Rangnick in his last two matches against Leicester and Everton despite his full fitness.
Bayley, who signed a new contract in April 2021, has been frustrated by the lack of opportunities and wants to play football regularly elsewhere. – Julian Lorenz and Rob Dawson
Madrid’s confidence Mbappe amid the pressure of Paris Saint-Germain
Sources told ESPN that Real Madrid are optimistic about signing Kylian Mbappe this summer, although the club is aware that Paris Saint-Germain is trying to persuade its star striker to extend his contract.
Mbappe has always been Real Madrid’s primary target, and after they failed with a late bid to sign him from Paris Saint-Germain last August, the La Liga giants are the favorites to sign him on a free transfer this year when his deal expires in June. The France international has come under ever-increasing pressure from PSG to renew, admitting earlier this month that he had “new elements” to consider, insisting he had not made a decision on his future yet.
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Sources told ESPN that despite those comments, Real Madrid remains cautiously optimistic that their long-running pursuit of Mbappe – which began when he went on trial at the club in 2012, met with boyhood idols Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo, and again when Leave. Monaco for PSG in 2017 – he’ll finally end up signing him this summer.
Mbappe has been in great shape with PSG in recent weeks, scoring 10 goals in his last eight Ligue 1 matches, including a hat-trick in Saturday’s 6-1 win over Clermont.
He shone through both legs of PSG’s Champions League last-16 elimination by Real Madrid, scoring in a 1-0 win at Parc des Princes on 15 February and putting PSG 2-0 on aggregate at the Bernabéu. On March 9, Karim Benzema’s hat-trick in the second half turned the match in Madrid’s favour.
There is also optimism about a contract renewal for another player who starred on that night – and against Chelsea this week – midfielder Luka Modric.
The Croatian has shown some of the best form of his career with Real Madrid this season at the age of 36, and sources told ESPN that although no agreement has been reached yet, the Croatian’s deal is expected to extend his stay at the Bernabeu for another season. – Alex Kirkland and Rodry Fayez
Gap Marcotti discusses what could influence Kylian Mbappe’s decision regarding his future at Paris Saint-Germain.
Conte prepares to tilt the title with Spurs spending spree
Sources have told ESPN that Tottenham are already prepared to commit €80m to making the loan signings of Christian Romero and Dejan Kulusevski permanent, but the club are planning to support Antonio Conte even more this summer as they try to turn Spurs into a Premier League title contender.
Conte has publicly indicated that North Londoners will pay Atalanta’s €55m flat fee for Romero while sources have told ESPN that he is pushing for Kulusevski’s temporary transfer from Juventus to be formalized by making an option to buy the winger for €30m.
Conte has ambitious plans to reform his squad as sources indicate that a right-back, central defender, midfielder, a reserve striker and a reserve goalkeeper are his main priorities; A roster of senior Tottenham Hotspurs they would in principle support despite the club posting a pre-tax loss of £80.2m in their latest financial figures last November.
Spurs’ budget will be affected by whether they qualify for next season’s Champions League and whether they can maximize value from the many players deemed redundant – among them Tanguy Ndombele and Brian Gill, both on loan to Lyon and Valencia respectively – but there is Acknowledgment that there is a big transfer window ahead of Conte and the satisfaction of striker Harry Kane also at the club.
Kane pressed to leave Tottenham last summer, frustrated by the lack of titles, but club president Daniel Levy rejected Manchester City’s interest. Spurs’ chances of avoiding another lengthy squabble this summer appear to have improved with reports now emerging of City turning their attention to Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland.
Manchester United were also expected to chase Kane if they appointed ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino as their new coach, but Eric ten Hag’s impending arrival in the hot seat at Old Trafford means it is unclear whether they will try to sack him.
Regardless, Tottenham’s statement of market intent will help convince Kane that he can win trophies at the club. – James Ole
Mark Ogden feels Manchester United will need the full backing of Eric ten Hag if he is to prove the right choice for the club.
Leipzig confused by Ten Hag rumors
Sources told ESPN that the Manchester United hierarchy was in no hurry to agree with Erik ten Hag to become the club’s next manager through the reported interest from Leipzig, although some within Old Trafford believed the links with the German side had been engineered as a negotiating tactic.
Tin Hag is set to be appointed as the new permanent coach, with an announcement scheduled before the end of the season and possibly later this month. United’s hunt for new director of football John Murtaugh and technical director Darren Fletcher, who reported to chief executive Richard Arnold, was led by co-chairman Joel Glazer who made the final decision on the appointment.
A framework deal has been agreed with the Dutchman amid reports that RB Leipzig may look to spoil the deal. But sources close to Leipzig insist she was puzzled by the links while stressing her support for President Domenico Tedesco.
The sources added that Leipzig considered Tin Hag as a candidate after the dismissal of Jesse Marsh in December but has been affected by the results under Tedesco’s leadership since his appointment. Leipzig only lost once in 2022 – to Bayern Munich in February – and has remained in both the European League and the German Cup.
United’s plan has always been to make a decision on their next manager before the end of April to allow the new man to influence the summer hiring. – Rob Dawson