Erik ten Hag has no regrets signing Rasmus Hojlund over Harry Kane for Manchester United

Young Danish striker is the big-money arrival at Old Trafford despite long-term links with Tottenham attacker

Manchester United new boy Rasmus Hojlund is introduced to fans ahead the pre-season friendly against Lens at Old Trafford on August 5, 2023. AFP
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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag insists he is “really happy” with attacking arrival Rasmus Hojlund despite the club also being linked to Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane

With the signatures of Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount and Inter Milan goalkeeper Andre Onana already safely secured, United turned their attention to solving a long-term problem – boosting their attacking options.

While Marcus Rashford – who signed a new five-year contract in July – broke the 30-goal barrier for the first time in his United career last season, midfielder Bruno Fernandes was the only other player to reach double figures.

United had long been linked with England captain Kane, who is record goalscorer for the North London club and his country and has entered the final 12 months of his current contract.

But with Spurs asking close to £100 million for the 30-year-old – and chairman Daniel Levy reluctant to let his prolific striker move to a Premier League rival – United were forced to turn their attentions elsewhere.

Instead of the experience of Kane, they plumped instead for potential by signing Atalanta talent Hojlund, with the 20-year-old arriving for an initial £64 million fee that could rise to £72 million with add-ons.

Hojlund, who only moved to Atlanta from Austrian side Sturm Graz in a £14.6m deal in August 2022, scored 10 goals in 34 appearances for the Italians before securing a dream move to the Premier League.

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“First of all we have chosen a striker and we are really happy with our choice,” Ten Hag said of the Denmark international who has scored six goals in six games for his country.

“[Kane] is a great striker. That's clear, he's really a goal maker and apart from that he has all the conditions and abilities that you want to see in a striker.

“It's a miss for the Premier League, absolutely.”

Asked about whether United were ever in the running to sign Kane, who looks set for a move to German giants Bayern Munich, Ten Hag added: “I don't think that I have to go into that discussion or to give an opinion about that.

“We are professional. The processes we do are really careful, we consider a lot of things.

“But finally we make decisions and we don't take decisions overnight. There's a strategy behind every decision and we are happy with the squad we have now.”

But United fans will have to wait to get a first glimpse of their new frontman as Hojlund is dealing with a back issue that will mean he misses Monday's Premier League opener against Wolves.

“He had a small issue,” Ten Hag said. “He's not on the levels where our players are in this moment, so now we have to train him.

“The prognosis is difficult always to say but we are confident and we are positive.”

While last season's third-place finish and winning the League Cup final against Newcastle United will have boosted Ten Hag's standing with fans in his first season, there are still some issues that the Dutchman has to deal with going into the new campaign.

The PA news agency reported on Friday that United are no longer planning to announce a decision on Mason Greenwood's future before their season gets under way.

The 21-year-old has been suspended by the Old Trafford club since January 30, 2022, over allegations relating to a young woman after images and videos were posted online.

Greenwood was facing charges including attempted rape and assault until the Crown Prosecution Service announced six months ago that the case had been discontinued.

A group of United fans are planning to protest against the prospect of his return ahead of facing Wolves.

There is also a planned protest by the 1958 group against the Glazer family as the club takeover saga rolls into the new season.

Asked about the fan protest and how frustrating it was for him that the ownership issue has not been resolved, Ten Hag said: “I'm sure that the fans will support the team. I think we construct that last season, the connection between fans and team.

“I think we only made it stronger in the pre-season, we've seen that in the tour but also now back in the UK. I think there's a really strong support and there's a really good vibe around the team and between the fans and the team.”

Updated: August 11, 2023, 6:30 PM