Manchester United have, in the past, spent big when they’ve failed to qualify for the Champions League. Angel Di Maria arrived in 2014 without that tournament, as well as Paul Pogba two years later. And, now, it’s possible Erik ten Hag will land a player of a similar calibre as he looks to build a dynasty at Old Trafford.
Manchester United will have Ten Hag in the dugout next season, with the 52-year-old arriving from Ajax as the club’s permanent replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked earlier this season.
And the Red Devils are now primed to back the Dutchman in this summer’s transfer window as they look to win a first Premier League title since 2013.
Next term, United won’t be in the Champions League having endured a horrendous campaign under both Ralf Rangnick and Solskjaer.
Instead, they’ll be playing in the Europa League or UEFA Conference League – something that seemed unfathomable when they splurged on the likes of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo back in the summer.
But history suggests the Red Devils will spend big, as they always seem to do whenever they miss out on the top four.
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In 2014, United wanted a marquee name to send a message to their rivals having suffered during David Moyes’ brief spell in the dugout.
So they decided to raid Real Madrid for Di Maria, who had been deemed surplus to requirements following the blockbuster arrival of James Rodriguez from Monaco.
The Argentina international had been a key player for Los Blancos, having helped them win the Champions League under Carlo Ancelotti.
Di Maria was the best player on the pitch in the final as Madrid beat Atletico Madrid, with the forward a constant threat throughout the contest.
And he ended up moving to United for a fee of £59million, making him the costliest signing in the club’s entire history.
Upon joining, Di Maria insisted the size of United was why he decided to move to Old Trafford even without any Champions League football on the table.
“I am absolutely delighted to be joining Manchester United,” he said at the time.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Spain and there were a lot of clubs interested in me, but United is the only club that I would have left Real Madrid for.
“Louis van Gaal is a fantastic coach with a proven track record of success and I am impressed by the vision and determination everyone has to get this club back to the top – where it belongs. I now just cannot wait to get started.”
Ultimately, Di Maria’s move didn’t work out with the Argentina international lasting just a year before moving to Paris Saint-Germain.
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Yet it was still a statement signing and, two years later, the Red Devils repeated the trick with Pogba.
Many had expected the France international to leave Juventus for Real Madrid, with Zinedine Zidane pressing to secure his signature at the time.
That, despite the fact they’d finished fifth in the Premier League table under Louis van Gaal the previous season.
And now, as Ten Hag prepares to take over, it seems United are hunting yet another statement signing.
Frenkie de Jong would certainly be one, with the Barcelona star attracting interest from the Red Devils amid uncertainty over his Nou Camp future.
He previously played under Ten Hag at Ajax, helping them reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019.
And if United are able to lure him to Old Trafford, even without a place in Europe’s top club competition, it would certainly be a major coup.
Darwin Nunez would represent a big addition, too, with United interested in snapping him up from Benfica.
And any potential deals for the likes of Declan Rice and Victor Osimhen would also make a splash within the footballing world as well.