Erik ten Hag makes subtle Liverpool & Chelsea transfer dig as Man Utd secure third place

The Manchester United manager was asked about the club’s summer transfer plans.

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Erik ten Hag made a subtle dig at Premier League rivals Liverpool and Chelsea on Sunday, as Manchester United secured a third-place finish in the Premier League.

The Red Devils already knew ahead of the final match of the campaign that they would be playing Champions League football next term, but a 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday meant Ten Hag’s men beat Newcastle United to third place.

United achieved a top-four finish despite not making a permanent signing in January, unlike Liverpool who brought in Cody Gakpo, while Chelsea added eight senior players but ended up finishing 12th. Rivals Arsenal added Jorginho and Leandro Trossard during the mid-season window, while Newcastle signed Anthony Gordon.

In contrast, United only completed short-term loans in January, with Jack Butland, Marcel Sabitzer and Wout Weghorst joining as United didn’t have the funds available to push through permanent deals. Ahead of the summer window, Ten Hag indicated he doesn’t want to experience the same problems and said United must be proactive in the market if the team is to continue its development next season.

“The club knows if you want to play top four, if you want to compete for trophies in this tough league, then you have to invest otherwise you don’t have a chance because other clubs will do,” said Ten Hag. “We have seen it in the winter that all the clubs around us made huge investments, we didn’t, but still we made it, so I’m happy and proud of my team,” he added, in a subtle dig at other clubs’ spending.

“We are in the right direction, but we are not there, where we have to be. There’s still a long way to go, there’s potential in this team and in individual players. We showed during the season we made progress, that’s a compliment to the players and the coaches, we worked really hard, but we have to make an investment.”

The situation surrounding United’s summer transfer plans has only been complicated by the club’s uncertain ownership. Given it’s not clear who will own the club in just a few months’ time, it has, unsurprisingly, been difficult for budgets to be set and targets agreed.