Feyenoord star Tyrell Malacia is set to become Erik ten Hag’s first signing with the player set to complete a medical after Manchester United agreed a £12.9million deal for the player.
The 22-year-old was on a list of targets Erik ten Hag submitted to the Red Devils after agreeing to join the club from Ajax. He felt the Dutch international would be a beneficial signing for United.
Sportsmail have profiled the left-back, who is set to arrive at Old Trafford ahead of next season. We have outlined exactly who the Dutchman is, how he will fare in the Premier League, where he will play for United and so much more.
Feyenoord star Tyrell Malacia is set to become Manchester United’s first signing this summer
Who is Tyrell Malacia?
Malacia is a product of the Feyenoord youth academy. He joined the system at the age of nine and honed his skills with the junior side of the club until 2015 when he signed his first professional contract.
Malacia continued to represent the Feyenoord U19’s before being called up to join the first team on their training camp in Spain alongside Mats Knoester and Dylan Vente.
The youngster made his professional debut for the club in December 2017 – playing a full 90 minutes when Feyenoord beat Napoli 2–1 in their Champions League fixture.
Malacia went on to make his Eredivisie debut on 13 December 2017 when Feyenoord played against SC Heerenveen.
Malacia is a product of the Feyenoord youth academy and plays for the Dutch national team
During that time, Malacia began to establish himself on the international scene. He earned caps at U16, U17, U18 and U19 level for Holland. He also represented his nation in the U17 European Championship.
However, on August 27, 2021, Malacia received his first call-up to the Dutch first-team for games against Norway, Montenegro and Turkey. He was handed his debut on September 4, 2021, in the match against Montenegro.
Malacia has continued to excel domestically and internationally. He was even named in the UEFA Europa Conference League Team of the Season in 2022, after winning a runners-up medal during the tournament.
How well suited is he to the Premier League?
Malacia has the pace and acceleration to thrive in the Premier League. He also has the dynamism and athleticism to help Manchester United rediscover their attacking prowess.
However, there may be some concerns about Malacia’s height – given the fact he is only 5ft 6in, while the likes of Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane are 6ft 3in and 6ft 2in respectively.
Malacia has the pace and acceleration to thrive in the Premier League next season
However, he is regarded as a small defender with the likes of Harry Maguire trumping him
Nevertheless, Malacia excels in his ability to tackle and intercept the ball well. He also is also fast, powerful and dangerous at both ends of the field.
That being said, Malacia could improve the quality of his crosses – considering he could be feeding more balls into the box than any other Manchester United defender as his stats trump Maguire, Varane and Luke Shaw in that particular area.
Where would he fit in Erik ten Hag’s system?
Malacia is a dynamic young defender that excels in the left-back position. However, he has the ability to play at centre-back when needed due to his versatility.
There will be competition in the form of Shaw for a place in Ten Hag’s starting XI, and making himself No 1 choice will be easier said than done as the England international established himself as United’s first-choice left-back a long time ago.
Malacia is a dynamic young defender that could play as a left-back in Erik ten Hag’s system
But, statistically, Malacia is the superior defender. He makes more clearances, tackles, interceptions and crosses than Shaw. He is also deemed to be fitter, faster and more dynamic than the 26-year-old.
Malacia also launches more attacks from the defensive third of the pitch compared to Shaw. However, the England star does make more blocks, win more aerial duels and create more chances than the 22-year-old defender.
What is his playing style?
Malacia is a creative young player with great technical ability. He is known for using his speed and explosive power in 1v1 situations. He also carries the ball well up the pitch and distributes effectively to his team-mates.
Malacia also possesses excellent ball control and has the ability to change the direction of play by passing or dribbling – making him a real offensive threat.
The 22-year-old boasts an endless amount of energy and likes to get ahead of the ball – overlapping with his winger to provide crosses into the box.
Malacia is a creative young player with great technical ability and impressive pace
His fluidity and dynamism going forwards on the left-hand-side makes him a real asset to his team – providing lost of activity down the flank during 90 minutes.
Defensively, Malacia is regarded as relatively small in stature. However, that does not impede his performances on the pitch.
He is courageous, tenacious and willing to put himself on the line for his team-mates.
The Dutch international is also fearless and aggressive in his defensive approach but possesses good awareness, recognition of play and spatial consciousness.
His ability to anticipate play and time his tackles well allows him to make key interceptions and clearances for his team-mates throughout the games.
How badly do Manchester United need him?
Manchester United registered an interest in signing Malacia when the transfer window first opened. However, their pursuit of the 22-year-old defender took a hit when they turned their attention to Frenkie de Jong.
Ten Hag was eager to secure the services of the Barcelona midfielder and neglected Malacia as a result. Therefore, the Dutch international was poised to join French side Lyon instead of the Premier League giants.
Malacia will have to compete with Luke Shaw for a place in the Manchester United starting XI
However, with De Jong talks advanced, United have switched their sights back to Malacia’s deal and have an now reached an agreement with Feyenoord for £12.9m plus a further £1.7m in add ons – trumping Lyon’s offer of £12.9m all in.
United’s move for the youngster is an interesting one considering they are well stacked in the left-back position.
Nevertheless, Ten Hag believes Malacia will provide the squad with the extra bit of quality Manchester United need for the 2022-2023 campaign.
United are expected to offload Alex Telles amid building interest from elsewhere but Malacia will still have to compete with Luke Shaw for a place in Ten Hag’s starting XI.
What’s been said about him?
Ten Hag has been a long-term admirer of Malacia – with footage recently emerging of the Manchester United manager crediting the defender during a game against his old club Ajax.
In a compilation of Malacia’s best moments posted online by a fan, the cameras focused on Ten Hag in the dugout. The Ajax boss was seen pointing in the player’s direction and shouting: ‘That kid at left back is amazing.’
The high praise certainly didn’t stop there, with Ten Hag then ordering assistant coach Michael Reiziger sat next to him to ‘take note of him’.
Ten Hag has been a long-term admirer of Malacia – recognising the youngster’s talent during his time as the Ajax manager
The Dutch manager made comments about Malacia when Ajax played against Feyenoord
Last year, the 52-year-old was asked if Malacia was one of his transfer targets while still at Ajax. Ten Hag remained coy with his response but let everyone know what he thought of the defender.
‘We do think he is a good player, yes,’ Ten Hag said. ‘A transfer for Malacia to us is not an issue in the first place. Before we get all speculations again; it does not play at all.
‘We can accommodate a departure of [Nicolas] Tagliafico within our current selection. If it is really necessary, we have a shadow list indeed. Whether Malacia is on that list? I’m not going to tell you.’