Ten Hag has a reputation for working well with youth players at Ajax, something Manchester United hope that he can recreate at the Premier League side when he takes over
Erik ten Hag has been told that the ‘next Martin Odegaard ‘ is already in place in Manchester United ‘s youth system.
The Dutchman will take over at the Red Devils at the end of the season and is expected to seriously overhaul the squad. He has a reputation for working closely with youth players, seeing many of them thrive during his reign at Ajax.
United hope that Ten Hag will have similar success with their academy, given that there remains a steady pipeline of graduates. One of the youth players who is already making his mark, despite being just 17-years-old, is Isak Hansen-Aaroen.
Hansen-Aaroen joined United in the summer transfer window of 2020, having broken into the senior team at Norwegian side Tromso. He has since risen up the ranks of United’s academy, working his way from their Under-18s and into the Under-23s.
The Norwegian has made 11 appearances in Premier League 2, mainly featuring in attacking midfield. He also made a significant contribution to the FA Youth Cup win, starting five of their six games in their run to their first silverware in the competition for a decade.
Hansen-Aaroen’s performances this season have led to him catching the eye of some, especially with Ten Hag preparing to take charge. And his former team-mate at Tromso, Ruben Yttergård Jenssen has now compared him to fellow Norwegian wonderkid Odegaard.
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“I have also seen some highlights from him at United. It seems like he’s doing very well there. I thought he was very good, and the fact that he has taken the next step so well is very exciting. I sensed that this was a talented lad already at the first training session, Yttergård Jenssen told Dagbladet.
“He has some skills that are absolutely raw. He is so playful with the ball. And the way he moves on a football field … There’s something artistic about it. He reminds me a bit of Martin Ødegaard.
“We just have to let him impress us and rejoice that he is doing well. Then we’ll see how far it goes. A football career goes up and down. Right now, he’s on a roll, and there’s bound to be some adversity. So let’s hope he copes well and continues that upward trend in the long term.”
Odegaard became a revelation at Stromsgodset, earning a dream move to Real Madrid when he was 17. His career stalled at the Bernabeu as he struggled to break into the Los Blancos first-team, before being sold to Arsenal last summer for £30m.
He has starred for the Gunners since returning to the Emirates Stadium permanently, becoming a key member of Mikel Arteta’s team. Odegaard has even been tipped to take over as Arsenal’s captain when Alexandre Lacazette departs in the summer.
While the period of his career between leaving Norway and moving to the Premier League was not successful, Hansen-Aaroen would do well to use his compatriot as a role model. Given his young age, it is unlikely he will be called into the first-team at United this coming season, but he is certainly a player to keep an eye on.
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