We ‘signed’ Eriksen and De Jong for Manchester United to answer Bruno Fernandes question

Man Utd are interested in transfer deals for both former Ajax midfielders Christian Eriksen and Frenkie de Jong this summer.

Manchester United are interested in both Christian Eriksen and Frenkie de Jong this summer as Erik ten Hag reshapes his squad ahead of next season.

United have been linked with a number of past and present Ajax stars this summer including the likes of Antony, Jurrien Timber, De Jong, Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez. United are set to make an improved offer to Barcelona for Frenkie de Jong. The two clubs have as yet been apart in their valuations of the player, though there is optimism at Old Trafford that a deal can be agreed with the Spanish giants reportedly open to selling the Dutch talent.

The Reds are also interested in Christian Eriksen, who is available as a free agent as his short-term deal at Brentford expires. The Danish playmaker is reportedly ‘considering his options’ and is expected to decide his future in the coming weeks.

So, if De Jong and Eriksen were to make the move to United in the summer, what sort of impact could they have on Ten Hag’s side? Could the former Ajax duo help improve the team’s performance?

We simulated the 2022-23 season with De Jong and Eriksen in the United squad and this is what happened.

 

We ‘signed’ Christian Eriksen and Frenkie de Jong for Man United

To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to arrange for Eriksen and De Jong to join United at the start of the summer transfer window with Ten Hag as manager of United, using FM22 to run the simulation. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata, Tahith Chong and Lee Grant were all released, whilst Nemanja Matic, Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial were all sold.

This is what De Jong’s in-game profile looks like on FM22.

Frenkie de Jong's in-game profile on Football Manager 2022.

The 25-year-old has brilliant technical, mental and physical attributes that make him one of the most talented midfielders in Europe. De Jong is able to dictate the tempo of games from a deeper position in midfield and his key attributes are his Dribbling (16), First Touch (17), Passing (16), Technique (16), Anticipation (17), Composure (16), Decisions (16), Determination (16), Off The Ball (16), Teamwork (17), Vision (18) and Agility (16).

This is what Eriksen’s in-game profile looks like on FM22.

Christian Eriksen's in-game profile on Football Manager 2022.

Eriksen is an elite playmaker with brilliant technical and mental attributes, as well as being a set-piece specialist. The 30-year-old’s standout attributes are his Corners (17), Crossing (16), First Touch (18), Free Kick Taking (17), Long Shots (16), Passing (17), Penalty Taking (16), Technique (17), Anticipation (16), Decisions (17), Off The Ball (16), Teamwork (17), Vision (17)), Work Rate (16) and Stamina (16).

Ten Hag was able to fit De Jong, Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes into the same team, with the two new signings playing the majority of their appearances in deeper roles in midfield behind the Portuguese star. The former Ajax boss used De Jong as the holding midfielder with Eriksen acting as more of a box-to-box midfielder, supporting attacks and helping out defensively due to his experience and work rate.

Manchester United's top performers in the 2022/23 season.

The two summer signings combined for a total of 10 goals and 25 assists as they formed a brilliant relationship at the heart of Ten Hag’s team. Eriksen had more of a goal threat due to his role in the team allowing him to support the attack, whilst De Jong just pipped the Denmark international in terms of assists, playing a more defensive role in midfield.

Both players averaged a pass completion rate of 87%, highlighting their ability to retain and contribute in possession of the ball. Eriksen and De Jong also averaged impressive statistics in terms of tackles per 90 statistics with the 30-year-old averaging 1.08 and the 25-year-old averaging 1.37.

Eriksen ranked as the second-best performer in the squad with an average match rating of 7.37, only behind Jadon Sancho (7.49). De Jong’s average match rating of 7.29 matched that of Fernandes, ranking the Netherlands international as United’s joint-fourth best player under Ten Hag.

Despite the arrival of De Jong and Eriksen, Fernandes returned to his best form scoring 20 goals and registering 10 assists in all competitions. The Portuguese playmaker was given more freedom in the team following the arrival of the two summer signings and raised his performance level even further, as the 27-year-old received more service in attacking areas from De Jong and Eriksen, allowing the Fernandes to have more influence on games and results.

At the end of the 2022-23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Man United XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what United’s best XI looked like at the end of the 2022-23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022:

Manchester United's best XI in the 2022/23 season.

Full United best XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Varane, Shaw; De Jong, Eriksen; Rashford, Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo.

Both Eriksen and De Jong featured in United’s best team for the season in Ten Hag’s debut campaign as manager. So, how did United perform in the league and cup competitions after signing De Jong and Eriksen in the summer transfer window? Let’s take a look.

United’s results from the 2022-23 simulation

United finished third in the Premier League with De Jong and Eriksen in the side, qualifying for the Champions League after missing out on Europe’s elite competition last season. Ten Hag’s side averaged the joint-second most possession percentage in the Premier League season (55%) with De Jong and Eriksen in the side, matching Chelsea and only bettered by rivals Manchester City (59%).

The Reds finished above rivals City for the first time in 10 years, despite losing more games than Pep Guardiola’s side. Compared to the 2021/22 season, United finished three positions higher, with 20 more points and a better goal difference by +29.

In the domestic cup competitions, United struggled to challenge in the later rounds after suffering defeats to Arsenal on penalties in the Carabao Cup fourth round and Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Manchester United's performance in the cup competitions.

Ten Hag was able to guide the Reds to silverware in his first season in charge however as United beat Lyon 3-1 in the Europa League final. Eriksen and De Jong both registered assists as the Reds lifted their first trophy since the 2016/17 season.

Overall, this Football Manager simulation predicts that if United were to sign Eriksen and De Jong ahead of the 2022/23 season they could have a huge impact on the style of the team. In this simulation, United won the Europa League and qualified for the Champions League, as they found success with both De Jong and Eriksen playing deeper behind Fernandes, as Ten Hag’s tactical style improved the club’s performance significantly.

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