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Zinedine Zidane has revealed that he turned down the opportunity to discuss becoming the new Manchester United manager over the language barrier. The French football icon was one of the high-profile names under consideration to be appointed by the Red Devils’ hierarchy.
Erik ten Hag won the job following a six-month search for a permanent boss. The Dutchman has stepped into the role after Ralf Rangnick departed having been in interim charge until the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Zidane and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino had been the favourites to be appointed following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal last November. However, Zidane pulled out of discussions early in the recruitment process, while United seemed concerned by the astronomical compensation fee owed to Paris Saint Germain if they wanted to appoint Pochettino.
And former France captain Zidane, who is not fluent in English, has revealed that the language barrier would have been an issue had he taken the job. A priority high on Ten Hag’s agenda is to restore the winning culture cultivated at Old Trafford by the legendary former boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
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Zidane does not think he would have been able to achieve success without possessing an expert understanding of English. The former Real Madrid manager told L’Equipe: “The language, for example. Some conditions make things more difficult. When I’m told: ‘Do you want to go to Manchester?’ I understand English but I don’t fully master it.
“I know there are coaches who go to clubs without speaking the language. But I work differently. To win, many elements come into play. It is a global context. I know what I need to win. And I want to put everything on my side to optimise victory.”
Ten Hag, who is reported to have undertaken English lessons before moving to Manchester, has been tasked with the huge job of rebuilding the fallen Premier League giant. His predecessor, Rangnick, predicted that United could need up to 10 new players this summer.
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Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been earmarked as a priority signing, although discussions with the La Liga club are being drawn out. Barca want in the region of £70million for the 25-year-old, who played under Ten Hag at Ajax until his switch to Spain in 2019.
It comes amid a blockbuster report by Portuguese publication Record that Cristiano Ronaldo is considering his future just a year after rejoining United. It claims that the iconic forward is concerned by a perceived lack of progress by the club this summer.
Ronaldo has apparently told his close circle that he could quit before the start of the season. Spanish outlet AS claim Bayern Munich would be interested in signing Ronaldo to replace the outgoing Robert Lewandowski, who could join Barcelona.
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