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Erik ten Hag defends under-fire attacker amid criticism

Erik ten Hag defends under-fire attacker amid criticism
© Reuters
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag insists that Rasmus Hojlund has the credentials to become a leading centre-forward in world football.

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has insisted that Rasmus Hojlund has the credentials to become a leading centre-forward in world football in the coming years.

The Denmark international has scored 14 goals and registered two assists in 40 appearances for the 20-time English champions this season, having arrived from Atalanta BC last summer.

Hojlund has eight Premier League goals to his name this term, while he also struck five times in six appearances in the group stage of the Champions League.

The 21-year-old has only managed one goal in his last 10 appearances in all competitions, though, and there has recently been criticism of his output.

Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News have claimed that a number of Man United players are 'unconvinced' by the Dane and are 'reluctant to pass the ball to him'.

Manchester United's Rasmus Hojlund celebrates scoring their second goal on February 1, 2024© Reuters

Ten Hag throws support behind Hojlund

Ten Hag was questioned on the youngster during his press conference on Tuesday, with the Dutchman speaking ahead of Wednesday's Premier League clash against Newcastle United.

The Man United head coach defended the Dane's form this term and insisted that he will become a leading striker in the coming years.

"He has had three injuries this season but still, as you say, scored 14 goals in this season. I think that is a very good record for a young player," Ten Hag told reporters

"When we decided to go for him, we talked about earlier that we buy a player for this season but also for the future. He has to develop. He has to progress. He needs time.

Manchester United's Rasmus Hojlund celebrates scoring against Tottenham Hotspur on January 14, 2024© Reuters

Ten Hag hails Hojlund's character

"Sometimes, it is going up and down and he also, before winter, he struggled to get his first goal in the Premier League but there you see he is a very strong character.

"Sometimes, you have downs but I am sure he will fight his way and he is very eager for every match, so it can be there, also in every match to return his form. I am quite confident he is close."

Hojlund registered in Man United's 4-2 win over Sheffield United in the Premier League on April 24 but has since drawn blanks against Burnley, Crystal Palace and Arsenal.

Ten Hag is believed to have been keen for Hojlund to arrive alongside another centre-forward last summer, with the Dutchman recently admitting that Harry Kane had been the number one target.

A new striker is expected to be a priority for the Red Devils during the upcoming market, with Anthony Martial set to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of June.

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