Paul Merson says Manchester United must ask questions of Erik ten Hag for not targeting Micky van de Ven
'He’s Dutch. You are Dutch... why isn't he here?!'
The Netherlands international left Wolfsburg for north London in a £43million deal in August and has made an immediate impact, starting all 10 of the club’s Premier League matches after being thrust into the starting XI a few days after joining.
He even netted his side’s winning goal in a 1-0 win over Luton Town last month and has struck up an excellent partnership with Cristian Romero.
By contrast, United have been dealing with a host of issues in defence – both from injury and loss of form – and were forced to field Jonny Evans against Manchester City, with the 35-year-old having been handed a short-term deal in the summer.
Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane have both had injury issues, while the club tried to offload axed captain Harry Maguire – who is back in the starting XI now despite being considered fifth-choice by Ten Hag.
Former Arsenal midfielder Merson feels the situation at the back sums up how poor Ten Hag’s recruitment has been – with the Dutchman criticised for mainly targeting players he knows from the Eredivisie – and believes Van de Ven would have been an ideal fit.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: ‘I would be asking questions if I owned the club. I would be sitting there now and I would be going to you as the manager, “Why didn’t we get the lad at Tottenham?”
‘“He’s Dutch. You are Dutch. You know the league. You know the players. Why is he at Tottenham and he isn’t here? And we haven’t got a centre-half.”
‘No disrespect to Evans. But you are playing a 30-odd-year-old next to Maguire. Varane can’t get fit. Lindelof, I don’t think is a real centre-half, if I am being totally honest. I wouldn’t mind him marking me.
‘Then you are looking at this player [Van de Ven] who is one of the best centre-halves in the league at the moment. And he isn’t playing for Man United. He wasn’t £80-90 million. Serious questions.’
The likes of Sofyan Amrabat, Lisandro Martinez, Andre Onana, Antony and even Mason Mount all either came from the Eredivisie or spent time there – Mount had a loan at Vitesse in 2017/18 – yet Volendam academy graduate Van de Ven seemingly was not on Ten Hag’s radar.
United legend Rio Ferdinand recently praised the young centre-back, saying: ‘Romero and Micky van de Ven are arguably the best pairing at the moment in central defence in the Premier League on form. They’ve been immense.
‘This Micky van de Ven, bro, he is the real deal. He’s the real deal. I saw his debut the other day for Holland. I’ve seen him right up close twice this season.’
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