Ole Gunnar Solskjaer verdict speaks volumes amid Erik ten Hag’s latest Man Utd transfer snub
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was chasing Antony and Cody Gakpo, but the club were unwilling to sanction both deals due to the presence of Anthony Elanga
Erik ten Hag’s primary objective after arriving at Manchester United this summer was clear: overhaul a beleaguered playing squad that was responsible for the club recording their worst-ever finish in the Premier League era last term.
The Dutchman quickly identified that the club was in need of attacking reinforcements – even before Cristiano Ronaldo expressed a desire to quit the club just 12 months after his return.
Ajax forward Antony emerged as United’s primary target, however, PSV Eindhoven’s coveted winger Cody Gakpo also featured prominently on the Red Devils’ transfer wishlist. A deal for the former was finally struck near the end of the summer transfer window, but a move for the latter failed to materialise.
However, a new report from The Athletic has shed some light on just how close Manchester United came to pulling the trigger on a swoop for Gakpo, who caught the eye of a host of top-flight clubs after racking up 36 goal contributions last term.
It has been claimed that United had agreed personal terms with Gakpo’s representatives ahead of a potential switch, but a combination of factors prevented them from pressing ahead with a move. One was the huge overall cost of the package that was put together to prise Antony away from Ajax, which is estimated to exceed £85.5million, and the other was the club’s desire to keep Anthony Elanga in and around the first-team picture.
The highly-rated Swedish winger enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last year and was the subject of interest from Leicester City, who were keen to take the 20-year-old on loan.
Although Elanga flourished under Ralf Rangnick’s guidance last term, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was responsible for bringing Elanga into the senior ranks. The Norwegian handed the United academy graduate his Premier League debut at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
Elanga has subsequently gone on to establish himself as a first-team regular after bagging three goals and two assists in all competitions last year. The youngster has also featured in six of United’s seven fixtures so far this term.
And even though Solskjaer failed to utilise Elanga much in the weeks leading up to his dismissal last year, the former United chief was adamant that Elanga would evolve into an “asset” for Manchester United going forward – a verdict that has been underlined by United’s desire to keep Elanga in and around the first-team picture under Ten Hag.
Speaking about Elanga last July, Solskjaer said: “He works so hard, he’s always smiley, bright, asking what more he needs to do, he’s so hungry to improve and get better. He can play wide left, wide right, up front, so anywhere along the front line. He’s going to be an asset.”