On Friday, reports surfaced suggesting Mauricio Pochettino was prepared to snub Manchester United because he wants the Real Madrid job. With Carlo Ancelotti’s role in the balance over at the Bernabeu, it’s possible the Italian will be axed and replaced by the current Paris Saint-Germain boss. And, should that happen, it could pave the way for the Red Devils to hire Erik ten Hag instead.
Manchester United have long admired Pochettino.
They contemplated hiring him as Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement in 2013, only for the Scot to hand-pick David Moyes as his successor instead.
United also thought about going for Pochettino in 2016, too, after Louis van Gaal had been relieved of his duties following a failure to guide the club into the Champions League.
But, on that occasion, Jose Mourinho was available so the Portuguese was ultimately the one given the keys to Old Trafford.
When United axed Mourinho and hired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on an interim basis in December 2018, the plan was to go after Pochettino at the end of the campaign.
Yet Solskjaer did so well that Ed Woodward and Joel Glazer jumped the gun, hiring the 49-year-old instead.
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Fast-forward to 2022, and Pochettino is again the frontrunner for the United job.
The Argentine is likely to leave PSG at the end of the campaign, regardless of how they fare in this season’s Champions League.
Yet while United do have interest in the former Tottenham boss, they may end up missing out.
Catalan publication Sport said on Friday that the 49-year-old was eyeing the Real Madrid job amid uncertainty over Ancelotti’s position at the Bernabeu.
So, if that indeed is the case, the Red Devils could feasibly go for Ten Hag as an alternative.
The Ajax boss looks likely to leave the Amsterdam outfit come the end of the campaign, especially following the departure of close ally Marc Overmars.
And United have Ten Hag high up their shortlist of possible replacements for Ralf Rangnick, who will become a consultant with the club.
If the Dutchman does take charge, United will give him transfer backing as they look to win the Premier League title next time out.
So who would his first two signings be?
United already know the areas they want to strengthen, which bodes well for the future after years of erratic recruitment.
A midfielder is the priority, especially with Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek both facing uncertain futures.
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And United also want a forward, too, regardless of whether or not Cristiano Ronaldo stays at Old Trafford for another 12 months.
For the midfield position, Ten Hag may try and bring Ryan Gravenberch with him.
The Netherlands international is already a household name and viewed as one of Europe’s hottest prospects for the future.
Gravenberch would bring style and solidarity to the club, something they’re currently lacking in the middle of the park.
And while Bayern Munich have been heavily linked, his close relationship with Ten Hag may see him follow his current manager to the Premier League in the case of any appointment.
Regarding a new forward, it recently emerged that United had been scouting Ajax star Antony.
The Brazilian has drawn comparisons with Neymar due to his outstanding dribbling and eye for goal, with the 22-year-old notching seven times from 19 Eredivisie matches this term.
Both Antony and Gravenberch would be good recruits for United.
And their close relationship with Ajax may work in their favour, especially with Edwin van der Sar currently working for the Dutch giants.
In the wake of the claims Pochettino is eyeing a move to La Liga, all signs are now pointing to United going for Ten Hag.
What ultimately happens, however, is something only time will tell.
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