Erik ten Hag has been interviewed for the Manchester United job as the club’s search for a new permanent manager gathers pace.
The Ajax coach is understood to have spoken with United on Monday.
Ten Hag, 52, is the bookmakers’ favourite for the post but United are interviewing other candidates from a shortlist also featuring Mauricio Pochettino, Luis Enrique and Julen Lopetegui and are determined to conduct a thorough process.
There is little expectation at Old Trafford at this stage that Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel could become a viable option despite the club’s long-standing admiration for the German and the uncertainty at Stamford Bridge.
United’s search for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s long-term successor is being led by football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher. The research phase of the process was completed around the start of this month with feelers then put out to third parties to gauge interest levels.
Now United have begun the process of conducting formal interviews in a marked change from the circumstances behind Solskjaer’s appointment, when United abandoned the promise of a “thorough” recruitment drive in order to give the job to the Norwegian, who had initially replaced Jose Mourinho on an interim basis.
Ten Hag was previously interviewed for the Tottenham job that went to Nuno Espírito Santo but he has plenty of admirers at Old Trafford for the work he has done with Ajax.
There is a firm expectation in Holland that Ten Hag will leave Ajax this summer, regardless of whether he gets the United job or not.
If he leaves for United, it is likely to be with Ajax’s blessing although he has just over 15 months remaining on his contract there and would likely cost United in the region of €5m (£4.2m) in compensation. Ten Hag has long been considered the leading contender for the post alongside Paris Saint Germain and former Spurs coach Pochettino although United sources insist the process still has a way to run.
United’s current interim Ralf Rangnick is in temporary charge until the end of the season but United want their new manager in place as soon after the final game of the campaign as possible.
The new manager is facing a huge rebuilding job and United are conscious that the more time they have to plan the better. United are keen to add a midfielder or two and a striker to their squad this summer.