Erik ten Hag admits early defeats and market pressure made spending rise | Manchester United

Erik ten Hag has said Manchester United’s transfer budget increased after the opening defeats by Brighton and Brentford, though the manager explained this was down to market forces increasing player valuations.

United lost 2-1 at home against Brighton and 4-0 at Brentford, where the team’s insipid display was of particular concern. Since the Brentford defeat on 13 August, Ten Hag has signed Casemiro for a fee rising to £70m and is poised to add Ajax’s Antony for €100m (£86m) and Martin Dubravka on loan.

With Lisandro Martínez (€50m) and Tyrell Malacia (€17m) bought earlier in the transfer window, United’s outlay will climb over £200m with add‑ons factored in. This is close to £60m more than the budget Ten Hag was expected to get.

He was asked whether the Brighton and Brentford defeats caused United to make more finance available and why Antony, given his publicly stated desire to join, was not pursued earlier when the forward might have been cheaper.

Ten Hag said: “They made adaptations [increased the money] because of how the market [was] and I think the club did that well. It’s difficult to answer that question [on Antony]. It’s hypothetical. You never know how things go, if you are earlier or later. It’s a process. First, we really quickly identified the positions we wanted and then identified the players we wanted. The process is if you get them or not.

“More parties are involved, there are many factors that make it complicated. Then there is the market and how it developed. Last season the benchmark was only five transfers above £60m [across Europe] and I don’t know how many now. There was always money.”

Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to stay at United despite his wish to leave. Ten Hag reiterated that he and the Portuguese forward had held productive discussions. “Several times, yes,” he said.

“We are all on one page. We are happy with him, he’s happy to be here and we want to make the season a success together.

“You can see in training that it is clear that he has the capabilities – he will fit in every system or every style. He knows what the demands are.”

Anthony Martial remains injured and misses Thursday’s trip to Leicester.

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