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Ten Hag identifies the player to bolster Manchester United engine room as top target too costly

Manchester United are being linked with a swoop for Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse as incoming boss Erik ten Hag sees him as the ideal player to lead the engine room.

Ten Hag is planning big changes at Old Trafford and midfield is an area that needs attention. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic are all set to leave and will need replacing. With that in mind Ward-Prowse has emerged as an option.

West Ham’s Declan Rice and Leeds star Kalvin Phillips are also targets but could be out of reach.

Rice has often been seen as United’s number one target but the transfer fee is an issue. It remains to be seen how much ten Hag will have to spend but Rice could be too much, even for United. The Hammers value him at £150million.

Phillips has also been linked but reports claim he would snub a move out of loyalty to Leeds. It means United could now turn to Ward-Prowse to bolster the heart of the midfield.

The 27-year-old has caught the eye for Saints this season and interest is hotting up. Tottenham and Newcastle have already been heavily linked with a summer swoop.

Reports claim Southampton have already issued a hands-off warning to the duo. But fighting off interest from United could be even harder.

The chance to be a part of ten Hag’s plans to reestablish United will tempt the midfielder. He has been at Southampton his entire career and this could be his last chance at a big move.

Ward-Prowse is under contract with Saints and will cost £75million. That is half the price of Rice and ten Hag has been given the green light to swoop. The player is said to be on £100,000 a week at St Mary’s so wages will not be an issue either.

Manchester United face competition

One problem for United could be reported interest from Manchester City. Pep Guardiola is also targeting a new holding midfielder. Fernandinho is on the move and Ward-Prowse could be a possible replacement.

Ten Hag will hope to win the day and solve a problem area that has dogged United for years. Ward-Prowse will also bring goals to the United side. Not since David Beckham has the Premier League seen a deadlier player from free-kicks.

He has scored 10 goals already this season and…

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