Erik ten Hag is hinting at what he wants in the transfer window if he stays at Manchester United

Under Erik ten Hag, Manchester United have set a club record for spending in a summer transfer window, signed more players in a summer than any other and spent more than under any manager.

But another rebuild is required before Ten Hag's squad rebuild has been completed. Whether Ten Hag oversees that is yet to be clarified.

United's receptiveness to offers for the majority of their squad members is not a ringing endorsement for the manager. 11 current players arrived on Ten Hag's watch.

Three significant signings have been targeted, with two centre backs wanted. In a season where United have recorded 62 separate cases of injury and illness that have caused a player to miss a match, Ten Hag wants a deeper squad.

"Yes, that is one of the issues in constructing the squad," he admitted, "where we have to improve, to do things better to construct a squad where we have more depth.

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"I think the most important thing is to return players and to get them back. In many positions we created depth and now in some positions we don’t have choices.

"For instance, the left back position. (Luke) Shaw only 15 starts this season so far and (Tyrell) Malacia zero starts. Not even available."

Malacia, unavailable all season after two rounds of knee surgery, was supposed to return in January. The 24-year-old played 39 times last term and was the only player named in all 62 of United's matchday squads but he is not assured of remaining at United next season.

"Left back depends on availability from Luke Shaw," Ten Hag stressed. "He will be fit. He is returning already on the pitch, we expect him back in coming weeks. But with Malacia it depends on his availability.

"I think every manager wants players with winning attitudes, great mentality, big personalities to perform under stress. That is what every manager is looking for. In this club, it is extremely important to perform under stress."

Despite the unprecedented backing Ten Hag has enjoyed, he spoke more openly about the failure to sign a proven goalscorer in Harry Kane to Gary Neville. Mason Mount was also not his preferred midfield target after United held discussions with Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice's father in recent years, and bid for Frenkie de Jong.

United have recruited more players on loan under Ten Hag than they did in the previous 20 years yet the failure to invest in long-term additions during the two winter transfer windows rankles the Dutchman.

"In the two (winter) windows, we didn’t do almost no business," he reiterated. "The first we loaned Wout Weghorst and Marcel Sabitzer, which were two good ones but in this winter we didn’t do anything. We tried but it didn’t happen. It had to do with the budget and FFP (financial fair play)."

Ten Hag returns to Selhurst Park this evening, the ground where he first attended a United match on the final day almost two years ago. That afternoon, he sat in the main stand and mastered the stoic expression every United manager has had to adopt in the past 11 years.

John Murtough was sat next to Ten Hag and Richard Arnold in the row in front. The former football director and chief executive are both long gone and Ten Hag is having to develop an intense rapport with new technical director Jason Wilcox.

Dan Ashworth will eventually be installed as sporting director, Omar Berrada's start date as chief executive is July 13 and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Sir Dave Brailsford and interim chief executive Jean-Claude Blanc were in Manchester last week.

Does Ten Hag feel exposed at all? "No, I don’t have that feeling. So I work well with them, we are aligned, we communicate every day and there are already new people in a new structure, we communicate on a daily basis.

"I don’t think in dangers. I think in opportunities. I think never in problems, I think how do we solve those problems or avoid them."