Left-field La Liga star, old favourite - the players Man Utd must now sign first for Erik ten Hag

Youssef En-Nesyri celebrates with teammates
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

As a result of the speculation concerning Erik ten Hag's future - now shut down after the announcement he is staying at Old Trafford - it has been somewhat easy to forget the summer transfer window will open for business on Friday morning.

Manchester United, with Ten Hag in charge, are expected to be busy over the summer in preparation for the 2024/25 campaign. Fresh legs are expected to be added to the squad and player sales could reach double figures.

United have plenty to do this summer, both in terms of incomings and outgoings, but it will be the new arrivals that will excite supporters most. The club has been linked with a plethora of names over the last few weeks.

READ MORE: Why Man United are keeping Erik ten Hag as manager as contract talks begin

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But who do our United writers believe the Dutchman should be insisting is brought in first to help him after his avoided the axe? Who should the Reds be making their No.1 target this summer? Below, they have had their say.

Tyrone Marshall

United need another defender to partner Lisandro Martinez and will probably need a midfielder to replace Casemiro, but it still feels like those positions aren't as essential as finding a striker to take the heat off Rasmus Hojlund.

Having finally waved Anthony Martial goodbye, United need a replacement to compete with Hojlund and allow him to be rotated out of the team at times. At the moment the only possible option is Marcus Rashford, but he is coming off a disappointing season and has rarely looked a threat at No.9.

It feels that if Erik ten Hag can land a forward then it will allow the window to be dominated by the search for other key positions. United also only need a striker to compete with Hojlund, not replace him, so although it is left field I am going to suggest someone like Youssef En-Nesyri would be a smart addition.

He is out of contract at Sevilla next year and isn't likely to sign a new deal, which means he could be available for around €15m to €20m. For a player with a good goalscoring record who looks physically equipped for the Premier League, that could be a snip. Get that position sorted and attention can turn elsewhere for the recruitment department, who will be safe in the knowledge a big chunk of the budget hasn't been eaten up.

Steven Railston

For me, the transfer priority this summer must be signing a No.6 to play alongside Kobbie Mainoo and Bruno Fernandes. Casemiro's drop-off in the last 12 months has been remarkable (ly-bad) and Ten Hag should now pack the Brazilian's bags for him and even drive him to the airport himself to catch a plane to Saudi Arabia for next season.

Who replaces Casemiro, has the quality to play in that position and is an attainable option is the question. Declan Rice should have been signed when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in charge, but the ship has long sailed and Arsenal's £100m deal to sign him has looked like good value.

United should use the bulk of their budget for the signing of a No.6 - but they wouldn't have to if making a move for someone like Fulham's Joao Palhinha.

In a dream scenario, Aurelien Tchouameni would be lured away from Real Madrid, but Joao Palhinha is attainable for a reasonable transfer fee and has proved himself to be an excellent operator in the Premier League. I'd also throw Joshua Kimmich's name into the mix but he'd cost more.

George Smith

You could argue that one of up to four positions that need strengthening should take priority. However, following the exit of Raphael Varane, there is a strong case for strengthening at centre-back first.

United have taken a liking to Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite and he heads into this summer's window following a very impressive season, meaning he will not come cheap. However, United have no choice but to strengthen their centre-back department and Branthwaite ticks a lot of boxes.

Not only is he young and held in very high esteem, he is also an excellent ball-player, strong on both feet and defensively sound. There is no denying he will cost United a pretty penny, but they need to source a long-term partner for Martinez in the heart of their defence.

Branthwaite, who is unfortunate to have missed out on a place in the England squad for Euro 2024, has all of the hallmarks of a world-class centre-back in the making. With his stock on the rise and United in desperate need of a successor for Varane, he would be a very sensible starting point in their summer recruitment drive.

Stephen Killen

United are in desperate need of strengthening their backline after last season's showing.

Branthwaite and Edmond Tapsoba are among the central defenders to have interested those at Old Trafford. While both offer quality, they will come at a cost, especially with clubs knowing United are on the hunt to strengthen their defence.

One player Ten Hag knows well is Matthijs de Ligt and the Bayern Munich defender has been a rumoured target for many years, even before Ten Hag arrived in Manchester. The Dutchman has arrived at a crossroads in his career after facing criticism at Juventus and a lack of playing time under Thomas Tuchel in Bavaria.

Reports have emerged this week that the German giants are looking to offload the 24-year-old in a bid to boost their finances and get a high-earner off the books. United could have a bargain option that would leave enough of the budget to strengthen other areas of the squad.

Ten Hag will know what De Ligt's strengths and weaknesses are. Capitalising on De Ligt's situation at the Allianz Arena is a no-brainer.

Kieran King

While a forward and a central midfielder should be signed this summer, the one position they must prioritise centre-back. Varane has already confirmed his departure at the end of his contract, while Jonny Evans could yet follow him out of the exit door.

Evans' possible departure would leave Martinez, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Willy Kambwala as the only recognised first-team central defenders, and Maguire and Lindelof could also make way this summer.

Branthwaite and Tapsoba are among those United could target. Both would offer quality and versatility, having impressed for Everton and Bayer Leverkusen respectively during the 2023/24 season. Another player linked is De Ligt and he would be the player I would target.

He knows what it takes to play for a big club, he has worked with Ten Hag, he's young enough to improve and has shown he has the skill needed to play at the top level. His career has nosedived a little of late but that means he has a point to prove and where better to do that than United.