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Five ‘untouchable’ members of Ten Hag’s Man United squad

Erik ten Hag’s rebuild of Manchester United will continue this summer after an encouraging first season in charge.

Though not without setbacks, a maiden campaign that ended in Champions League qualification and silverware will be viewed as a positive first season in the Premier League for the Dutchman.

The task now will be building a squad capable of competing with the best in England and Europe, though there is a solid foundation on which to build upon for Ten Hag.

With changes expected at Old Trafford this summer, we look at five players who are ‘untouchable’ members of Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United squad.


One of the key additions from last summer’s transfer window, Casemiro joined Manchester United from Real Madrid and made an instant impact, establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s best defensive midfielders.

The Brazil international arrived with a big reputation after a decorated career in Spanish football, having won five Champions League trophies at Real Madrid where he formed part of an iconic midfield trio alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

His arrival was greeted with scepticism given the £70m fee for a player who turned 31 in February, but Casmeiro has been a pivotal presence in ensuring Manchester United will return to the Champions League next season.

A leader who provides midfield snarl and poise in possession, he has raised the standards of those around him since signing for the Red Devils and has brought a defensive security that has long been lacking in the Manchester United midfield. Without him, it is doubtful a top-four finish would have been secured last season. Short-term perhaps, but he is indispensable to the makeup of Ten Hag’s team.

Lisandro Martinez

Lisandro Martinez was another recruitment during Ten Hag’s first window in charge, as the Dutchman spent £57m to reunite with the Ajax defender in the Premier League.

Martinez overcame a difficult start and no shortage of doubts to emerge as a central figure in the side, with the reservations over his ability to handle the physical demands of the Premier League soon removed.

The Argentine is crucial to Ten Hag’s team from both an offensive and defensive angle, offering warrior-like tenacity in duels and building from the back with intelligent passing.

The 25-year-old has taken little time to become a fan favourite at Old Trafford and has reinforced the spine of a side which had lacked leadership in recent campaigns. The drop-off in performances during his absence is perhaps the greatest testament to his influence.

Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw has had another fine season at Manchester United to cement his place as one of the first names on the team-sheet under Ten Hag. The left-back was dropped for summer arrival Tyrell Malacia in the season’s opening weeks, but bounced back to have an impressive campaign.

Shaw is technically excellent and full of drive from his defensive position, while he showcased an improved maturity to his game when deputising at centre-back last season. The 27-year-old produced a run of accomplished performances as Manchester United dealt with an injury crisis in central defence, where his ability on the ball enabled the Red Devils to build from the back.

Only Diogo Dalot made more interceptions than Shaw in the Manchester United squad last season, while he ranked in the 93rd percentile among left-backs in Europe’s top five leagues for attempted passes per 90 minutes, with his intelligent use of the ball regularly utilised as a constant outlet for Ten Hag’s team.

Shaw is stable defensively and a threat in the final third, while his passing range – particularly from deep – is often under-appreciated.

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford was named as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year and as Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year at the club’s end-of-season awards, recognition for a career-best campaign.

Rashford’s future at the club had been in doubt last summer after a challenging period for club and country, but the 25-year-old has since bounced back to produce the best football of his career to date.

Rashford scored 30 goals in all competitions last season to fire the Red Devils back into the Champions League, becoming the first player in a decade – and first since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement – to reach 30 goals in a season for the club.

Free of the fitness issues that had plagued him across the previous 18 months, Rashford re-cemented his status as one of the Premier League’s best forwards with a series of electric performances. After debate over his best position, Rashford thrived in a role off the left and the arrival of a recognised centre-forward this summer could yet bring more from the England international.

Rashford carried the goalscoring burden for Ten Hag’s team last season and is a talent the Dutchman will look to build around as he attempts to construct a title-winning side.

Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes’ standards have rarely dropped below excellent since arriving at Manchester United three-and-a-half seasons ago, with the midfielder among Europe’s elite when it comes to production and chance creation.

Fernandes led the Premier League for key passes (121), through balls (35) and big chances created (32) last season, with only the absence of a reliable centre-forward preventing the Portugal international from increasing his total of eight assists.

The 28-year-old captained the club for much of the campaign and has become the leader of Ten Hag’s team, possessing a competitive edge and will-to-win appreciated on the terraces. Fernandes had now contributed a staggering 77 goals and assists in just 124 league appearances for the Red Devils, a rate of return that will be expected to increase as the team looks to improve around him.

Crucially, he is almost always available and has missed just two games in his entire career due to injury. Last season the indefatigable midfielder featured 70 times and for more than 6000 minutes for club and country – more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.

He returned 21 goals and 21 assists in those appearances, the sort of output that can help turn Manchester United into contenders at the top end of the Premier League.

Read – Five Premier League players who need a fresh start

Read Also – Ranking the five best attacking midfielders in world football right now

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