Rio Ferdinand feels Erik ten Hag will allow two of his most experienced centre-backs to leave Manchester United this summer.
The 43-year-old was speaking on his Vibe with Five podcast when he made the claim, and was assessing the Red Devils’ resources at the back.
United ended the 2021/22 campaign with Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones as their main options in the heart of defence, although Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi could also be part of Ten Hag’s plans with the young defenders returning from short-term loan moves.
Despite the plethora of centre-backs at their disposal, United have also been linked with adding reinforcements in that area, with Pau Torres, Matthijs de Ligt and Jurrien Timber the names that continue to be mentioned. It’s the latter that has been most strongly linked, although recent reports say he is more likely to remain with current employers Ajax.
“I’ll be interested to see what Ten Hag does in that area,” Ferdinand said during his latest podcast.
“We’re talking about the young lad, Timber, at Ajax, a small centre-half. I’ll be interested to see what happens with Varane, Lindelof and Maguire, Eric Bailly as well, I think one or two of those will go.”
Assessing the options
Should Ten Hag allow two senior centre-backs to leave, it will mean he is more likely to try and sign a defender in the market.
The Manchester Evening News recently claimed Timber is one of five new recruits Ten Hag hopes to add this summer. However, the Mirror have reported Timber has ‘stunned’ his former manager by rejecting a switch to Old Trafford, while Dutch journalist Marcel van der Kraan told Sky Sports News that ex-United boss Louis van Gaal warned Timber against a move.
“But then one man turned up [to stop a transfer]: Louis van Gaal. He told the player in the Dutch camp, ‘Look, if you go there I think your chances could be limited for playing for Holland in the World Cup three months later’.
"Now for Jurrien Timber, a great Ajax-style player, a Ten Hag-style player, that was a bit of a blow. Louis Van Gaal made it clear that he would not be in his Dutch team if he was not playing every week for United."
“Timber has said, ‘Look boss, I can’t come with you because my Holland place is more important’. Ajax have said ‘if you’re not going to United, here is a new contract’, and since last night his agent is in talks with them.”
As for departing centre-backs, Bailly is the only player from Ferdinand’s aforementioned quartet who has been linked with a move away from the club.
The Mirror claim the Red Devils have offered the Ivory Coast international to Newcastle United for a ‘knockdown price’.
Meanwhile, as per Spanish outlet Marca, Jones is a target for Leeds United, Fulham and Southampton.