Manchester United appear to be closing in on their first signing under Erik ten Hag, as Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia is set to join the club. The Guardian report that a fee of £15.7 million has been agreed between the two clubs. Lyon were credited with a major interest, but it appears that the new United manager’s links in the Netherlands have allowed the Premier League club to move to the front of the queue.
Although the deal isn’t done yet, it is expected to be Manchester United’s first of the summer transfer window. It is going to be an important couple of months as the board try to tool the squad with the players that ten Hag needs to deliver his style of play. The Dutchman will know the size of the task ahead of him and it will be accelerated by players of the right profile arriving.
In the squad currently, United have a few options to play left back. Luke Shaw is seen as the first-choice, while Alex Telles offers competition. Brandon Williams has returned to the club this summer after a loan spell with Norwich City. He can play on either side and he is an academy graduate. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for him, as he could help with certain squad registration rules.
The pending arrival of Malacia probably means that one, perhaps two, of the players named above have question marks over their short term future. The 22-year-old won’t be expected to walk into the starting eleven, but he will certainly be competing to start at left-back.
Malacia is at a good age and his potential is huge. Last season, he played 32 times in the Eredivisie and played a key role in Feyenoord’s run to the Europa Conference League final. His performances in Europe led to him being named in the team of the tournament for the newly created competition.
His return of one goal and four assists in the Eredivisie suggests that he has some attacking talent. Malacia averaged 1.62 shots per 90 minutes, underlining his preference to join the attack at every opportunity. Further to this, he averaged 1.1 key passes and 1.6 dribbles per game.
The Netherlands international is aggressive going forwards, with flexibility in the ways he does this. Malacia can overlap and underlap the left winger, with this duel threat making him difficult to defend against. One of his best assets is his pace, going in both directions. He is able to burst into pockets of space in the opposition half, while it also allows him to recover should he be caught out of possession.
Defensively, he looks to win the ball back at every opportunity. The modern game demands full-backs to cover lots of ground and Malacia has the physical attributes to do this. His average of 2.7 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game also underline the aggression that he has when he is on the pitch.
The main concern about Malacia would be his build. He is small and could need time to adapt to the more physical Premier League. As he isn’t being signed to go straight into the first-team, there will be a chance for him to ease into English football and that will be beneficial to him.
This definitely feels like a ten Hag led signing, as he will know a lot about Malacia from his time as Ajax manager. It is an exciting signing, as it suggests the new coach will be given a lot of input when it comes to recruitment.
The 22-year-old adds depth to the squad and he could develop into a starter for Manchester United.