Tactical Insights

Arsenal stun Man Utd by exploding into race for star Ten Hag loves; Barcelona, Bayern put up competition


Erik ten Hag could miss out on a player he would love to sign for Manchester United, as Arsenal and three European giants have reportedly begun targeting him.

Ten Hag has great knowledge of the Dutch market from his spells in charge of Ajax and FC Utrecht, and this has seen Man Utd pursue plenty of Netherlands internationals and Eredivisie stars in the last couple of years. Ajax duo Antony and Lisandro Martinez soon followed Ten Hag to Man Utd in big-money deals, while the Red Devils also raided Feyenoord for Tyrell Malacia.

The manager was eager to bolster his midfield with the signing of either Frenkie de Jong or Ryan Gravenberch, but the former opted to remain at Barcelona while the latter instead joined Liverpool.

Ten Hag is hoping Man Utd will be more successful in their pursuit of Ajax striker Brian Brobbey, as they have recently reignited their interest in him.

Ten Hag is also a huge fan of Brobbey’s Dutch compatriot Xavi Simons, who is currently on loan at RB Leipzig from Paris Saint-Germain.

The versatile attacker, who can play as a winger on either flank or as a central attacking midfielder, got off to a blistering start in the Bundesliga, notching three goals and four assists in his first four outings. He has only managed three goal contributions in 12 league appearances since then, but the 20-year-old still remains a supreme talent.

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In October, Man Utd were tipped to unite Ten Hag with Simons by submitting a major €50million (£42.8m) bid for him. But that offer has not arrived, and Man Utd’s hesitation may prove costly.

According to German source Bild, the race to sign Simons is heating up. Indeed, Man Utd’s Premier League rivals Arsenal have just joined the pursuit.

Arsenal, Man Utd and Barcelona all want PSG ace

The Gunners are among several ‘top clubs’ who have begun expressing a strong interest in the youngster. Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan all want him, too.

As Simons is halfway through a season-long loan in Germany, any permanent swoop will have to wait until the summer.

The interested clubs are waiting to see what decision PSG make on the playmaker. They let him leave for PSV in July 2022 but opted to activate their buy-back option the next summer after he shone in his native Netherlands.

It will be interesting to see whether PSG learn from that mistake, or if they decide to let Simons continue his career elsewhere. After all, PSG boss Luis Enrique already has a wealth of attacking options, so it may be tough for Simons to force his way into the starting eleven.

Signing the 11-cap international would be a great move from Arsenal. The Gunners have been criticised for not landing another right winger who can provide competition and cover for Bukayo Saka, and Simons would fill that role. Plus, at just 20, the former Barcelona academy star has plenty of time to reach his incredible potential.

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