Man Utd: Erik ten Hag says it is ‘easier to play at almost any other team’

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Donny van de Beek has played just 21 minutes for Manchester United this seasonErik ten Hag says players should not be put off by the experience of Donny van de Beek at Old Trafford and claims it is easier to play at “almost any other team” than Manchester United.

Ten Hag said he “wasn’t the player he was at Ajax” because of injuries.

Van de Beek made just six Premier League starts for United.

He had a loan spell at Everton in 2022 before returning to United, and missed the second half of last season with a serious knee injury.

Ten Hag, who thinks a move will revive his career, said: “From the first moment I came in here at Manchester United, he wasn’t the player he was at Ajax because he was injured. So many times he was not available and then he struggled for a long time to recover from that injury.

“That is probably the main reason why he was not playing. We decided for a loan in the summer but it didn’t come and then his opportunities are few because also we make appointments and we make agreements with players and contract players in that position. The competition was high.”

Another player close to the exit is £73m signing Jadon Sancho, with United working to finalise a loan move back to Borussia Dortmund after his public falling out with Ten Hag.

Asked if players would be wary of moving to Old Trafford, Ten Hag added: “That is always on those players and how much confidence you have in your capabilities,” he said. “But I can tell you one thing – the Premier League is tough. Man United, that is tough to play there because it’s more easy to play in almost any other team than Man United because the pressure is that high always.

“You have to deal with that. But if you have confidence in yourself, this is the best challenge and this is definitely the best club you want to be at as a player. It depends on player to player, and it depends especially on the character of the player, their personality.”

United face Wigan in the FA Cup third round on Monday (20:15 GMT).

AnalysisBBC Sport’s Simon Stone

It quickly became apparent to former United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who signed Van de Beek, that he was not physically or mentally tough enough to cope with the demands of the Premier League.

So, within weeks, £35m had effectively been wasted, a fee United have no chance of fully recouping.

Ineos’ Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sir Dave Brailsford are now assessing United before taking sporting control of the footballing side of the club, including the future of Jadon Sancho – who cost £74m but whose value is reducing almost by the week.

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