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Manchester United’s chances of signing Frenkie de Jong, Antony latest and club captaincy stance

In a wide-ranging webchat, our chief Manchester United writer, Samuel Luckhurst, answered fans' questions.

Manchester United defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford on Monday evening to claim their first Premier League victory of the season.

Erik ten Hag’s team dominated the game from the start, and Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford scored either side of halftime to earn a well-deserved victory. Liverpool scored late on through Mohamed Salah, but they had few answers to the challenges posed by United.

Ten Hag got the reaction he wanted after the 4-0 drubbing at Brentford nine days earlier, as it was the Reds’ strongest performance in some months. United played with purpose and hunger, becoming the first Premier League team to defeat Liverpool this year.

The Reds’ win over the Merseysiders has given them much-needed confidence ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southampton. It has also made them look like a far more tempting option for any prospective new recruits before the transfer market closes next week.

On Wednesday, MEN Sport’s lead United writer, Samuel Luckhurst, sponsored a Q&A session in an attempt to answer as many questions as possible from United fans. The questions ranged from United’s chances of signing Frenkie de Jong to the Glazers’ attitude on selling up to Monday’s victory.

Q: What are the possibilities that Manchester United will sign Antony, Frenkie de Jong, Cody Gakpo (if Cristiano Ronaldo left), and a goalkeeper? After Monday night, there appears to be a chance to catch one of the big two.

SL: If they got all of those players, I’d wear a full Manchester United kit to work! Two are feasible (a goalie and a forward). The Glazers are willing to approve a record-breaking window for United, but there is a limit!

I wrote in mid-June that Ten Hag wanted five signings, and I’d say they’re still on track.

Q: Do you believe United will take the same counter-attacking approach against possession-based teams in the top six as they did on Monday? There is still some opposition to more direct teams or teams that choose that style.

SL: As I mentioned in the prologue, the win had a pre-autumn 2021 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feel about it, with United upping their game against a large opponent in unfavorable circumstances and relying on the breakaway. That is not a strategy Ten Hag will want to pursue in the future.

Southampton will be a good test since the ‘event’ is as far away from Liverpool on Monday night as you can get in the Premier League: 12.30 p.m. kick-off, away from home, and a team content with not having the ball. The onus is going to be on United to break down Southampton, who have rallied from behind to draw and win their previous two games.

Ten Hag has made it plain throughout the preseason that he wants a progressive, possession-based style in which United has solid control. If De Jong does not come in, [Christian] Eriksen might go into the creative midfield role he played on Monday and did well in.

Q: What is the most recent information on the Glazers’ sale/takeover?

SL: Anything fresh and significant would be included in an article. Last week’s announcement was definitely noteworthy, but some supporters got ahead of themselves and underestimated the owners’ ego.

They receive their semi-annual payout, and the Atlantic Ocean separates them from the enraged crowds inside and outside Old Trafford. Joel Glazer hasn’t gone to Manchester since Alexis Sanchez was a member of the Red Devils.

Q: Is it true that Manchester United was on the verge of signing Thiago Alcantara in 2020?

SL: No. What was stranger about Thiago’s departure to Liverpool was [David] Moyes’ preoccupation with his rejection in 2013, as if it were as revelatory as the Watergate tapes. When the story became well known, some people became obsessed with it. So you had certain ‘journalists’ requesting intensive coverage of a 2013 story in 2020.

Q: What is the status of Hannibal’s loan move to Birmingham City?

SL: That is a question for my colleague Rich. Loan arrangements are continuously changing (Ethan Laird was going to Watford and ended up at QPR). It is not advantageous to the player.

I wouldn’t put too much stock in what Birmingham’s manager said last week. Managers frequently lie. This year, Eddie Howe did the same with Martin Dubravka, and Dubravka is now a benchwarmer at Newcastle.

Q: Is Manchester United looking for a second midfielder to replace Casemiro? According to rumors, Ten Hag wants to bring in another midfielder before the transfer market expires.

SL: In an ideal world, he’d acquire another (De Jong), but as I mentioned to someone else, Eriksen could play the ‘controlling’ role for most of the games. I also doubt the Glazers would approve two €80 million moves for players. If they do, it will be a desperate attempt to pacify supporters/protesters.

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