Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag told he already has Frenkie de Jong alternative

De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has been told he already has an alternative to Frenkie de Jong in his squad if he doesn’t get a deal over the line for the Dutchman. Former Crystal Palace midfielder Darren Ambrose says James Garner can make the step up to being a prominent player for United.

Barcelona star De Jong has been a top target for United throughout the summer. The two clubs have agreed a fee but the 25-year-old wants to stay at the Nou Camp.

If a deal is not able to be completed, Ambrose reckons Garner can have an impact. The 21-year-old came through the academy at United and has spent the last 18 months on loan at Nottingham Forest.

He played a key part in Forest’s promotion back to the Premier League last season and Ambrose has been hugely impressed with what he has seen. He told talkSPORT: “I’m 50-50 on whether [De Jong] will end up a Manchester United player or not.

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“So James Garner, you mentioned James Garner, I think he can make the step up, I certainly do. And I think you look at when a manager comes into a football club, one of the first things they want to do is prove they can improve players.

“He can certainly do that, he did that at Ajax. I think he will be looking at a player like James Garner and thinking ‘I can prove that I can build a player into not just a normal squad but into a Manchester United squad that’s trying to build and get back up there’.

“It’s happened before with young players at Manchester United and that’s potentially the way he wants to build. I think James Garner’s a fantastic player and if it’s not De Jong, I’m not putting them in comparison with each other, but there’s potential that he can grow into that position and play a similar role.”

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Garner is back with United for pre-season and recently discussed his preferred position in midfield. He said: “Personally, I’m not too fussed if I play as a No 6 or No 8. Throughout the academy, I played as a deeper-lying No 6.

“People maybe questioned whether I could score and create but when I got to the [Under] 21s, I showed I could also play box to box. This season, I’ve played as a No 6, No 8 and in the No 10 position. For me, I enjoy No 6 or No 8.

“In the academy, I was always a centre-back at six or seven, but got moved into midfield and it went from there. I’m enjoying my time.”

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