This is set to be a very busy summer for Manchester United.
Not only will new manager Erik ten Hag be tasked with helping a number of the first team members rediscover their form, but it is also likely that they will be active in the transfer market. The Dutchman is sure to have already identified a number of potential targets, all of whom are likely to fall under certain criteria.
At Ajax, he excelled when working with young, high energy players who have the potential to improve. The likes of Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice, who have been heavily linked with the club in recent times, would certainly be strong additions that slotted into that philosophy.
Of course, United's transfer policy in recent seasons has been an absolute disaster. The club seemed intent on chasing the biggest names possible, often giving little regard as to how such signings would fit into a team together. The result has been a disjointed playing style on the pitch, with very few players improving their reputation after moving to Old Trafford over the last decade or so.
It was assumed that lessons had been learned in this regard, with the arrival of ten Hag thought to be pointing towards a more cohesive and modern approach to player recruitment.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 28, 2022
However, a rumour circulating in recent days may suggest that the club are still falling into the same old habits when it comes to navigating the transfer market.
Manchester United should steer clear of N'Golo Kante
The Athletic are reporting that Manchester United are interested in signing N'Golo Kante this summer, with Chelsea willing to let the midfielder leave for a 'reduced price' due to the fact his contract is set to expire in the summer of 2023.
The Frenchman has been linked with the club on a couple of occasions in the past, most notably in the summer of 2020. United opted against signing him then, only for the midfielder to then have one of his best individual campaigns.
That is perhaps playing on their minds this summer, with the chance to sign a player of Kante's calibre for a knockdown fee perhaps too good to pass up.
However, this deal would only act as proof that Manchester United are continuing to make the same mistakes in the transfer market.
It is fair to say that Kante is no longer the player he once was. He suffered with injuries throughout this season and when he was on the pitch, Kante did not really resemble the player he was at his peak. He has certainly lost some of the running power that made his such an incredible presence in the middle third.
While the injuries may clear up moving forward, it is very unlikely that he will rediscover that trademark stamina. At 31-years old and having played a lot of football over the last six years or so, it is highly likely that his best days are behind him.
Manchester United investing their future in such a player would be a massive mistake. The arrival of ten Hag was meant to signify the move towards a long-term vision, meaning their recruitment policy should follow that principle.
Bringing in Kante at this stage of his career on high wages would certainly indicate that they have learned little from their past mistakes. Even if he did have a decent season or two, the club would quickly find themselves stuck with a declining player on high wages that would be difficult to move on.
They have suffered the consequences of such moves in the past, most notably after signing the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Nemanja Matic, and Edinson Cavani. All arrived at Old Trafford in periods of their careers where they were on a downward trajectory, with the club hamstrung with poor performers on large contracts as a result.
The fact that Chelsea are so easily willing to move Kante on should be telling.
The lack of long term planning has been Manchester United's achilles heel over the last number of years, with this signing doing nothing to improve the club in that regard.
You would hope that Erik ten Hag will have a bit more sense than that. If not, it will be quite a while before the club can be restored to their former glories.