Garnacho might have already forced Ten Hag to change his Man Utd transfer plans

Garnacho might have already forced Ten Hag to change his Man Utd transfer plans

It felt like the ultimate 'what if' scenario for Manchester United. Frenkie de Jong collecting possession midway inside the opposition half and floating a wonderful pass for Cody Gakpo to score. It could easily have been in United red, but instead occurred in the oranje of the Netherlands.

United spent most of the summer trying to sign De Jong from Barcelona and also held an interest in PSV Eindhoven winger Gakpo for much of the window, before instead committing an eye-watering £85.5million to sign Antony from Ajax, Erik ten Hag's top attacking target.

De Jong's desire to remain in the Champions League and stay with Barcelona has only led to a Europa League meeting with United anyway in February, and few United fans would swap him for Casemiro now, with the Brazilian making an immediate impact after his £70million summer move.

Gakpo has remained a potential addition, however, although it might be one that United have begun to move on from recently, despite his impact on the second day of the World Cup.

The winger stayed at PSV in the summer, despite interest from Leeds United and Southampton, and his returns this season have been eye-watering, with 13 goals and 17 assists already. His header for Holland against Senegal on Monday came from a wonderfully timed run and showed that instinct for goal.

The 23-year-old has often been fielded as a No. 10 for his country by Louis van Gaal, with Memphis Depay often drifting in from the left when he is fit, but he's made it clear his favourite position is the left wing.

Gakpo's issue at United is that competition for that position is intense. Marcus Rashford has shone this season and is probably the first-choice in that role in Ten Hag's front three.

Jadon Sancho has also played on the left, even if he's suffering from a crisis of confidence at the moment, and then there is Alejandro Garnacho.

The 18-year-old has had some tough love from Ten Hag this season, but in the weeks before the season was placed on pause he was electric. His goals against Real Sociedad and Fulham were both excellent and his 30-minute cameo against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup was thrilling.

All of those goals have come from the left and he's revealed this week that he also sees that as his best position.

“I’ve always liked to play out wide on the left, as a right-footed player able to cut inside,” he told club media. “To be able to play as a right-footed player down the left, you also have to be pretty decent with your weaker foot.

"From an early age, I’ve always practiced hard using both feet, because that makes you into a much better player and so nowadays I can play with both feet – not to perfection but to a good standard."

Garnacho is proving difficult to ignore for Ten Hag and he needs space to grow in this squad. He's making an impact almost every time he's called upon and even if he remains a substitute this season, he's going to be one of the first replacements the manager calls on because of the threat he's offering.

That makes signing another right-footed left-winger with his best years ahead of him unnecessary. Gakpo might continue to shine in the World Cup, but Garnacho's form this season has made him a less pressing priority for United.

With Cristiano Ronaldo unlikely to return to the club after the World Cup, a central striker is a bigger issue now, rather than another wide forward such as Gakpo.
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