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Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag told he already has Frenkie de Jong alternative

Posted on July 20, 2022

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has been told he already has an alternative to Frenkie de Jong in his squad if he doesn't get a deal over the line for the Dutchman. Former Crystal Palace midfielder Darren Ambrose says James Garner can make the step up to being a prominent player for United.

Barcelona star De Jong has been a top target for United throughout the summer. The two clubs have agreed a fee but the 25-year-old wants to stay at the Nou Camp.

If a deal is not able to be completed, Ambrose reckons Garner can have an impact. The 21-year-old came through the academy at United and has spent the last 18 months on loan at Nottingham Forest.

He played a key part in Forest's promotion back to the Premier League last season and Ambrose has been hugely impressed with what he has seen. He told talkSPORT: "I'm 50-50 on whether [De Jong] will end up a Manchester United player or not.

"So James Garner, you mentioned James Garner, I think he can make the step up, I certainly do. And I think you look at when a manager comes into a football club, one of the first things they want to do is prove they can improve players.

"He can certainly do that, he did that at Ajax. I think he will be looking at a player like James Garner and thinking 'I can prove that I can build a player into not just a normal squad but into a Manchester United squad that's trying to build and get back up there'.

"It's happened before with young players at Manchester United and that's potentially the way he wants to build. I think James Garner's a fantastic player and if it's not De Jong, I'm not putting them in comparison with each other, but there's potential that he can grow into that position and play a similar role."

Garner is back with United for pre-season and recently discussed his preferred position in midfield. He said: "Personally, I'm not too fussed if I play as a No 6 or No 8. Throughout the academy, I played as a deeper-lying No 6.

"People maybe questioned whether I could score and create but when I got to the [Under] 21s, I showed I could also play box to box. This season, I’ve played as a No 6, No 8 and in the No 10 position. For me, I enjoy No 6 or No 8.

"In the academy, I was always a centre-back at six or seven, but got moved into midfield and it went from there. I’m enjoying my time."

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