ERIK TEN HAG starts work on Monday facing an Old Trafford cash squeeze that threatens to hamper his re-building plans.
The Dutchman still hopes to team up again with Frenkie de Jong as early as this week.
Manchester United believe they are now closing in on a £67million deal with Barcelona for the midfielder who spent 18 months working under Ten Hag’s former club Ajax.
But while CEO Richard Arnold told fans in a recent pub meeting that money was “not a consideration” in this summer’s transfer market, he will still not provide Ten Hag with an open cheque book.
United thought they could capture Ajax winger Antony for around £40m.
But the Eredivisie champions are demanding £69m for the 22-year-old Brazilian.
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They also wanted £51m for 20-year-old centre-back Jurrien Timber when United expected the asking price to be half that.
Money had been no object for the club’s previous managers after Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Since then they have spent over £1billion on the likes of Paul Pogba (£89m), Harry Maguire (£80m) and Romelu Lukaku (£75m).
Last summer Jadon Sancho was brought in for £73m and Raphael Varane cost £42m.
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Yet Arnold also admitted that the club had “burned through cash” over the last decade.
With United looking for investors to fund either a new stadium or a major overhaul of the Theatre of Dreams, Ten Hag will have to pay the price.
His budget before any sales – with Anthony Martial and Eric Bailly expected to be dumped – could be as little as £100m.
That tightening of the purse strings is a major factor in Ten Hag’s pursuit of Christian Eriksen who is available for free but could yet remain a Brentford.
United know that clubs are trying to hold them to ransom in the full knowledge that replacements are required for Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani who all left as free agents.
But Arnold is tired of watching United pay through the nose for new talent.
No Champions League involvement in the coming campaign will also cost his club up to £100m in lost revenue.
United’s head honcho knows he must also plan for the real prospect that the situation may remain the same for the season after next.
Fergie’s successors David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all had money to burn when they first sat on the hot seat.
Ten Hag, however, will have to build carefully and more frugally than any of his predecessors in the Premier League era.
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