Hit or miss: Rating Erik ten Hag's first-season signings at Manchester United

The Dutchman has enjoyed a successful first season at Old Trafford that could end with two trophies and a Champions League place

Lisandro Martinez, left, and Antony, right, already knew of Erik ten Hag's qualities when they followed him to Manchester United from Ajax. EPA
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Erik ten Hag can secure a Champions League return for Manchester United in his first season in charge on Thursday if they beat Chelsea at home.

United take on the struggling Blues knowing three points will see them move up to third place and ensure they cannot be caught by fifth-placed Liverpool on the final day of the season on Sunday.

It will represent a successful first campaign at Old Trafford for Dutchman Ten Hag, who replaced Ralf Ragnick last summer after five years at Ajax, having already won the League Cup earlier this year. United will also contest the FA Cup final against Premier League champions Manchester City on June 3.

We take a look at the signings made under Ten Hag and whether they have been a hit or miss at United this season.

Antony - miss

The Brazilian followed Ten Hag from Amsterdam to Manchester in the summer of 2022. United forked out €95 million to secure his signature and the winger announced his arrival in fine style, scoring in each of his first three Premier League games, but his contribution since then has been negligible. The 22-year-old has plenty of skill that sometimes strays into showboating but as his manager stated recently, needs to deliver more end product.

Casemiro - hit

Many questioned whether spending €70 million on a highly decorated but battle weary Casemiro was good business but he has been one of United's best players of 2022/23. The tough tackling Brazilian was part of a legendary midfield triumvirate at Real Madrid alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and his experience and tactical nous allows the likes of Christian Eriksen to flourish while seemingly reinvigorating Bruno Fernandes. Casemiro has shown he is more than just a destroyer, chipping in with his share of goals including one against Newcastle United in the League Cup final that secured United a first trophy in six years.

Lisandro Martinez - hit

Written off for being too small for the Premier League after a bruising defeat to Brentford, but Martinez has shown he is more than up to the physical demands of the English top flight. Like Antony, he followed Ten Hag from Ajax to United, for a fee of €57 million. A World Cup winner with Argentina in December, Martinez's form since the Qatar finals was outstanding before injury cut short his season. As brave as they come and a centre-back with an uncanny knack of anticipation and will to win. Should have a very big future at Old Trafford.

Tyrell Malacia - miss

Signed as defensive cover, the Dutch left-back has had few opportunities to argue his case for more starts such as been Luke Shaw's impressive form. Has looked capable if unspectacular when called upon.

Christian Eriksen - hit

Few stories are more heartening than the Danish playmaker's return to top-level football after suffering cardiac arrest on the field during Euro 2020. The harrowing scenes left many wondering if Eriksen would make a full recovery, but he showed during a brief stint at Brentford that he had lost none of the vision and skill that marked him out as one of the world's most creative midfielders. Signed on a free transfer, Eriksen's influence on Ten Hag's team has been exemplary. A key component of a midfield that can now compete with the best in English football.

Martin Dubravka - unrated

Two appearances is hardly enough to make an assessment of the Slovakian's time at Old Trafford. Was unable to play for his parent club Newcastle in February's League Cup final – against United – as he was cup-tied having played for United in the earlier rounds.

Wout Weghorst - jury's out

Following Burnley's relegation from the Premier League at the end of 2021/22, the Dutch striker signed for Besiktas in Turkey to keep himself on the radar of the Netherlands coaching staff ahead of the 2022 World Cup. A promising showing in Qatar prompted Ten Hag to surmise that his compatriot could add a different dimension to the United attack, and his loan at Besiktas was cancelled and he moved to Old Trafford for a loan fee of just under €3 million in January. Few would argue Weghorst is of the same ilk as Ruud van Nistelrooy or Robin van Persie, his Dutch predecessors at Old Trafford, and yet Weghorst's selfless and underappreciated work within the team often allowed other teammates to flourish. A return of two goals in 29 appearances is hardly anything to write home about, or prompt United to make his arrangement permanent, but it would be too harsh to class Weghorst as a flop.

Marcel Sabitzer - hit

The Austrian was brought in as cover after Eriksen sustained an ankle injury just days before the January transfer deadline and has proved a useful acquisition for Ten Hag. Deployed in a variety of roles, Sabitzer has done his chances of earning a permanent move no harm with some eye-catching displays whether in a midfield holding role or as a No 10. Bayern Munich are said to be holding out for a fee of €22 million for the 29-year-old they consider surplus to requirements.

Updated: May 25, 2023, 3:19 AM