Not-so-sweet 16: Ten Hag’s Manchester United signings and how they rate | Manchester United

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Tyrell Malacia, £15.7m

Erik ten Hag’s first acquisition, on 5 July 2022, has been underwhelming, making 39 appearances in an injury-hit spell. Ten Hag bought the left-back as direct competition for Luke Shaw and his chance arrived when the England player was dropped after United lost to Brighton and Brentford at the start of last season. Malacia started the next eight games but was removed at half-time of the 6-3 loss at Manchester City and the 3-2 win at Omonia Nicosia, since when Shaw has re-established himself. 5/10

Christian Eriksen, free

Great value and a playmaking asset when deployed sparingly but to ask Eriksen, now 31, to run the midfield is unrealistic. In different circumstances the Dane would have been a fine squad addition but he is instead an emblem of Ten Hag’s patchy recruitment: having to rely on an ageing player instead of, say, pursuing Declan Rice to build the XI around. 6/10

Lisandro Martínez, £56.7m

The Argentinian is out again with an aggravation of the foot problem that caused him to miss the end of last season. He recovered from being part of a horror-show rearguard act in the hammering at Brentford last August (he was pulled off at the break with United 4-0 down) to be a fulcrum of United’s defence and one of Ten Hag’s on-field generals. 7/10

Casemiro, £52m

The Brazilian was imperious for most of last season, scoring in the Carabao Cup final triumph over Newcastle, but a penchant for collecting yellow (14) and red cards (three) is a serious achilles heel that has caused him to miss several matches. Casemiro has also been injured (he again was forced off in Wednesday’s loss to Newcastle) and this term has looked older than his 31 years. 7/10

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Antony, £85.6m

A baffling acquisition for a baffling price, United’s second most expensive transfer is a one-paced right-winger who struggles to beat a man on the outside and whose one move is to cut infield and take a potshot. Has zero goals in 10 appearances this season, after a paltry eight in 44 last term. His fee was paid in August 2022 despite United having determined earlier in the summer that his value was no more than £60m. 4/10

Martin Dubravka, loan

The goalkeeper joined in September 2022 for the season, made two Carabao Cup appearances, then asked for the deal to be cut short in January, perhaps unhappy at the lack of playing time. 5/10

Wout Weghorst, loan

When Ten Hag needed a premium-grade goalscorer for a title push last January there were funds only for a 30-year-old striker who had been farmed out by his parent club, Burnley, to Besiktas. Weghorst certainly tried and is given an extra mark for the run that led to Marcus Rashford’s opener in the Carabao Cup final. But effort alone, sadly, does not make a side championship contenders. 5/10

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Jack Butland, loan

Brought in to replace Dubravka as David de Gea’s backup, Butland made zero appearances. N/A

Marcel Sabitzer, loan

The midfielder arrived from Bayern Munich in January 2023 and in 18 appearances made little impact, scoring three times, though he did collect a Carabao Cup winner’s medal as a 69th-minute replacement. 5/10

Marcel Sabitzer celebrates after scoring against Sevilla in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final.
Marcel Sabitzer scored three times for Manchester United but failed to make a lasting impression at Old Trafford. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Mason Mount, £55m

So far, Mount has appeared to be this year’s Antony: a dud and a puzzling purchase when Ten Hag needed an A-list midfielder rather than another hybrid forward. The 24-year-old was out for a month until late September with a “small complaint” but has still made nine appearances and is yet to score or affect a contest. Miguel Almirón’s opener for Newcastle on Wednesday came after Tino Livramento sped along the right: Mount had the chance to upend him but did not. 4/10

André Onana, £44.1m

Bought as an upgrade on De Gea who had all the Spaniard’s shot-stopping prowess but would add a silky ball-playing dimension and a bigger character. But the Cameroonian was a liability against Bayern Munich and Galatasaray before the redemptive last-minute penalty save against Copenhagen. Can he be consistent? The coming months will offer the answer. 5/10

Rasmus Højlund, £72m

The young Denmark striker may only have three goals in 12 appearances but is being starved of chances in a team that has scored only 11 times in the Premier League. At 20 Højlund is pacy, muscular and seems to possess the mental fortitude Ten Hag’s United require. The hope is that he will not be sucked into the vortex of mediocrity that has engulfed so many new players of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. 7/10

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Jonny Evans, free

At 35, Evans is enjoying the Indian summer of a second spell at United and when called upon in his six appearances has shown an enduring class. The defender’s man-of-the-match performance at Burnley featured a delightfully feathered left-foot dink to Bruno Fernandes for the winner. 6/10

Altay Bayindir, £4.3m

Arrived in the summer window and is yet to pull on a United jersey, making judgment impossible. N/A

Sofyan Amrabat, loan

The Moroccan, who shone in his country’s run to the Qatar World Cup semi-finals and signed in September, lacks Eriksen’s schemer’s devilment or Casemiro’s cool defensive-pivot eye, showing why, maybe, Fiorentina allowed him to join for the campaign. The 27-year-old played previously under Ten Hag – at Utrecht – so joins Martínez, Antony and Onana in that bracket. 4/10

Sergio Reguilón, loan

Bright, incisive, hungry. These should be non-negotiables for any Ten Hag signing and, unlike some arrivals at Old Trafford, the Spain left-back has shown these qualities in his six games. 7/10

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