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Ratcliffe clears Man Utd to shatter British transfer record for Premier League striker

Evan Ferguson

Erik ten Hag will get the green light from Sir Jim Ratcliffe to sign Brighton striker Evan Ferguson with the teenager seen as the man who can lead a bright new era at Manchester United under Erik ten Hag, according to a report.

The Dutchman oversaw a brilliant first season at the helm at Old Trafford, guiding Manchester United to the FA Cup final, Carabao Cup success and a third-place finish in the Premier League that crucially sealed a return to the Champions League.

However, it seems that early success was merely papering over the very sizeable cracks at Man Utd and the club has been brought back down to earth with a very sizeable bump so far this season.

To that end, United have alarmingly lost nine of their opening 18 games; their worst start to a campaign since 1962/63 – some 51 years ago.

As a result, speculation is mounting that Ten Hag could be on borrowed time at Old Trafford with speculation rising he could soon face the sack if there is not an immediate improvement.

That situation is not helped by our exclusive that revealed a number of senior stars had started to question Ten Hag’s tactics and transfer decisions since his appointment at Man Utd.

Even so, Ten Hag still seemingly retains the support of those in power at Old Trafford. Crucially, incoming new investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is also reportedly behind the Dutchman and believes that, with more support behind the scenes, he remains the right man to inspire United to new heights.

Ten Hag has issues getting goals from Man Utd attackers

With Ratcliffe also set to take charge of all United’s incomings and outgoings, the two men have reportedly held a chat to discuss a number of players they would love to bring in through 2024 and beyond.

And while a new defender is very much on their wanted list – United are seemingly looking at Jean-Clair Todibo, who, conveniently plays for Nice, a club also owned by INEOS and Ratcliffe – the club are well aware of their painful lack of a punch in attack this season.

Take some summer Rasmus Hojlund for example. The young Dane, who cost a whopping £72m from Atalanta, has five goals in four Champions League outings this season. That places him alongside Alvaro Morata as the competition’s top scorer so far this season.

On the flip side, Hojlund has failed to register a goal in the Premier League, though can count himself unfortunate having seen what looked a legitimate goal chalked off by VAR against Brighton.

He is not the only man struggling, though. To that end, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho (one goal apiece), have all struggled to find their best form. Out-of-sorts Brazil winger, Antony, meanwhile is yet to score, while another attacking option in Jadon Sancho, appears to be on his way in January after a major falling out with Ten Hag.

Now amid claims that Martial’s time at United will come to an end in January – our exclusive this week named three European giants who are all weighing up moves to sign the Frenchman – Ten Hag is deliberating on a potential replacement.

Man Utd have ‘chosen’ to sign Brighton sensation Evan Ferguson

To that end, reports earlier this week claimed the club were looking to Italy and a deal to sign a cut-price replacement in the form of little-known Lecce striker Nikola Krstovic.

Costing just €10m, the Montenegro frontman really would be a budget capture by the Red Devils and really something of a transfer risk.

However, proving the old adage that ‘you buy cheap, you buy twice’ a sensational new report claims Ratcliffe has given Ten Hag permission to push through the signing of Brighton striker Ferguson instead.

The teenager has emerged as one of the best young No 9’s in world football, scoring an impressive five goals in 11 Premier League outings so far this season.

Ferguson, who moved to Brighton as a raw 17-year-old from Bohemians in his native Ireland, recently signed a new deal to keep him at the AMEX until summer 2029.

As a result, the 19-year-old is described as very happy on the south coast and loving his football under inspirational Italian coach Roberto De Zerbi.

However, crafty Seagulls chairman Tony Bloom reportedly indicated earlier this week that Ferguson’s sale could not be ruled out.

The Seagulls have a tendency to sell off their prized assets as big-money exits for Ben White, Marc Cucurella, Leandro Trossard, Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo have illustrated in recent times.

The latter of those, Caicedo, cost Chelsea a British-record £115m fee (£100m up front and £15m in add-ons) when moving to Stamford Bridge over the summer.

Now it’s claimed Bloom is open to Ferguson’s sale – but only if a willing suitor tops the fee the British-record fee received for the Ecuadorian midfielder.

As a result, reports in Spain claim Ratcliffe has not been dissuaded from Brighton’s valuation. And he will reportedly give Ten Hag permission to push through the signing of the teenager, who is seen by both men as the ‘new striker to resurrect Man Utd’.

Ten Hag told he was right to sign Hojlund before Ferguson

With a British-record fee for Ferguson seemingly getting the green light from Ratcliffe, it may well prove a case of second-time lucky for United.

Indeed, they reportedly saw a £55m approach for the eight-times capped Republic of Ireland striker batted away over the summer.

Instead, United moved to push through the £72m deal for Hojlund, though former United frontman Louis Saha insists Ten Hag was right to pursue the Dane as a priority.

“Rasmus Hojlund was the right target for Manchester United over Evan Ferguson,” Saha told Paddy Power. “Both players are tremendous with exciting potential but whenever you make a decision, there needs to be no regrets.

“Ferguson scored a hat-trick on the weekend, and Hojlund played in his debut, it doesn’t make sense to make those comparisons because they have two different careers.

“Ferguson is doing well and it’s great for Brighton but for now it’s about Manchester United and the players they have available.

“Hojlund came on for 25 minutes and he did very well, his strength and power showed, and this will be good for United as other than him there are no real target men at the club.

“He can occupy the two central defenders and maybe even free up space because of his speed and strength. It will be very interesting to see how he can adapt physically after a few games, but I’m sure that is the right choice for Manchester United.”

Ten Hag has so far spent in excess of £400m since taking charge at United, with five of those coming under the Dutchman’s tenure.