Erik ten Hag described his first meeting with Sir Jim Ratcliffe as “very positive” but admitted he still has a lot to learn about the billionaire’s plans for Manchester United.
Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group will take control of football operations once his purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the club is confirmed in the coming weeks and he was in Manchester this week for a series of meetings with club staff.
The meetings were described as an opportunity for Ratcliffe, as well as senior Ineos officials Sir Dave Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc, to get to know the club before starting work in earnest.
“It was very positive, I have to say,” said Ten Hag. “We had a long meeting, we sat together for many hours and we agreed on many topics, so it was very positive.
“I think it was a very constructive meeting for both sides and we look forward to working together.”
Asked if he had managed to get a clear idea of what might change under Ratcliffe, Ten Hag said: “We have to allow it. They just come in and introduce themselves.
“You have good ideas. We have to see what we can integrate. We’ll work on it together, but after a day you won’t notice it anymore.
“They gave me a few (ideas), we discussed our strategies and I think we’ll come together.”
Reports that winger Jadon Sancho is close to returning to Borussia Dortmund on loan until the end of the season would not interest Ten Hag.
He has not appeared since August after a public spat with Ten Hag and his refusal to apologize for a social media post in which the 23-year-old said he had been a “scapegoat.” been made.
A January exit has long been expected and Dortmund, the club Sancho left in 2021 to join United in a £73million deal, has emerged as the main contender to sign him.
“I can’t say anything about that,” said Ten Hag. “We will have to wait and see how things develop and if we have any news we will of course tell you.”
While Ten Hag has confirmed that United have arranged contract extensions for Victor Lindleof, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Hannibal Mejbri, they have started talks with Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial rather than pursuing options in their contracts which expire in the summer.
Martial is widely expected to leave the club in the summer, while United are reportedly hoping to persuade Varane to accept reduced terms if he wants to sign a new contract.
“We are talking to Rapha Varane and Anthony Martial and have activated the options for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof and Hannibal,” said Ten Hag.
Asked why contract options were not triggered for Varane and Martial, Ten Hag said: “I think it is an internal discussion between the club and the players.”
Meanwhile, Ten Hag said he still did not know whether goalkeeper Andre Onana would be available for next weekend’s Premier League game against Tottenham, saying only that he could feature in Monday’s FA Cup away game against Wigan .
The Cameroon Football Association is understood to have agreed to allow the 27-year-old to take part in the African Cup of Nations, which begins on January 15, but Ten Hag would not confirm he will play at Old Trafford next will be the weekend.
“We are talking to the Cameroonian association,” said Ten Hag. “That was a theme in the conversations with Andre when he came here. It’s constructive. We will see. I don’t know yet (for Spurs) but he will be here for the game against Wigan.”