Erik ten Hag called a key strategy meeting for his Manchester United inner circle in Amsterdam on Thursday, with Steve McClaren joining the new Old Trafford manager along with long-term assistant Mitchell van der Gaag and United football director John Murtough.
The four men met up in the city the day after Ten Hag and his Ajax players celebrated their Eredivisie title. Murtough caught an early flight out to Amsterdam to run through their latest transfer plans in detail before flying back to London in the afternoon.
McClaren, who worked with Ten Hag in his first year at FC Twente in the 2008-2009 season, is now likely to be a part of the staff when the new United manager begins his new job.
United had previously asked Ten Hag to assess the current United staff before pushing ahead with the McClaren appointment but the Dutchman has insisted that he wants his former colleague – assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson from 1999 to 2001 – as part of his team. There is a great deal of planning required ahead of next season with United tanking badly under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, and many players due to move into free agency at the end of the season.
Ten Hag ideally wants two midfielders, a versatile forward and a centre-half this summer as part of an overhaul of the squad, with at least a dozen players facing uncertain futures, with the number of new arrivals and United’s overall spend likely to be heavily influenced by who departs.
Midfield remains a priority area, though, and United are pursuing a deal for Frenkie de Jong but face an uphill battle to convince the Netherlands midfielder to move to Old Trafford if Barcelona agree to sell.
Ten Hag and De Jong enjoyed success together at Ajax and the incoming United manager would like to be reunited with the 25-year-old in Manchester as part of a new-look midfield.
United want two midfielders ideally this summer, with Nemanja Matic on his way out and Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata due to leave when their contracts expire next month, and they are aware that Barcelona could be open to offloading De Jong.
Barcelona need to sell players to help fund other deals given the club’s huge debts and struggles to meet La Liga’s salary rules. United have had a dialogue with Barcelona and De Jong’s representatives but a deal is far from certain at this stage.