Having already acquired Lisandro Martinez, Antony and Andre Onana, Erik ten Hag wants to reunite with more of his old Ajax players at Manchester United. The Dutchman is hopeful of pulling off a deal for Bayern Munich centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, and he also wants to lure striker Brian Brobbey from Amsterdam.
Ten Hag is keen to strengthen his attack with a rival to summer signing Rasmus Hojlund in the knowledge that Anthony Martial is due to leave in the summer at the end of his contract. United have therefore been watching Brobbey ahead of the off-season window and will hope to overcome competition from Premier League rivals Arsenal, who also have their eye on the player.
The 21-year-old recently appeared to play down the chances of linking up with Ten Hag again, telling the press that he was no longer “in contact” with his old boss. “We used to text through Whatsapp, but I think Erik is busy,” he said. “I have a new number as well, so.”
Brobbey privately wants Man Utd move
Based on a report from Football Insider, he’s actually more enthusiastic about a move to Manchester than his public remarks would suggest. It’s claimed that Brobbey wants to join Man Utd, ready to “jump at the chance” if it presents itself in 2024.
Ten Hag is described as a “big admirer” of the player, who himself would be “very keen” on the chance to represent the 20-time English champions and play in the Premier League.
“Annoying” Brobbey can do what Martial can’t
In contrast to Hojlund, who’s only netted two league goals for United since his arrival, Brobbey has been prolific this season and must be full of confidence right now. He ranks third in the Eredivisie for non-penalty goals (11), and while he’s slightly under-performed his npxG of 11.9, the difference is small enough not to be a cause of significant concern. Brobbey has also provided four assists (he ranks fourth in the league for goal contributions with 15), so there’s more to his game than just putting the ball in the back of the net.
Retired Dutch attacker Pierre van Hooijdonk says Brobbey is “very annoying” for defenders to play against and Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, who encountered him in the group stages of the 2022/23 Champions League, described him as a “great talent” who “basically has everything”.
Signing Brobbey could promote the kind of healthy competition Ten Hag and United need in the number nine position. Martial can’t be relied upon to stay fit – he’s missed 33 games since the start of last season with six separate issues – and that means Hojlund is often playing without the pressure of knowing he could lose his place. The hope would be that having two competing strikers would bring out the best in each, but it remains to be seen if United can get a deal done with Ajax.