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UPDATE 2-Soccer-Manchester United name Ten Hag as new permanent manager

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By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, April 21 (Reuters) - Manchester United have named Ajax Amsterdam coach Erik ten Hag as their new manager to succeed interim boss Ralf Rangnick from the end of this season, the Premier League club said on Thursday.

United said the Dutchman had signed a three-year deal, running until June 2025 with an option for a one-year extension. The deal is subject to work visa requirements.

Ten Hag is the fifth permanent manager to be appointed by United since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 following David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“During the past four years at Ajax, Erik has proved himself to be one of the most exciting and successful coaches in Europe, renowned for his team’s attractive, attacking football and commitment to youth," said United's football director John Murtough.

“In our conversations with Erik leading up to this appointment, we were deeply impressed with his long-term vision for returning Manchester United to the level we want to be competing at, and his drive and determination to achieve that."

Rangnick took over as interim manager in November following the sacking of Solskjaer and a brief caretaker spell for former player Michael Carrick.

United, beaten 4-0 by Liverpool on Tuesday, are currently sixth in the Premier League and face the prospect of missing out on qualification to next season's Champions League.

The 52-year-old Ten Hag was appointed by Ajax during the 2017-18 campaign and led them to the Dutch league title in 2019 and 2021, as well as the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

The Dutchman, who previously worked with the reserve team of Bayern Munich, had long been linked with a move to United.

“It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead," he said in the club statement.

"I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans, and I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering the success they deserve.

“It will be difficult to leave Ajax after these incredible years, and I can assure our fans of my complete commitment and focus on bringing this season to a successful conclusion before I move to Manchester United.”

Sources close to the club said that the recruitment process had been led by Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher with club chief executive Richard Arnold involved in the latter stages.

Although they spoke to a number of potential candidates, the trio believed that Ten Hag was the candidate most closely aligned with United's vision and strategy for getting back to the top level.

Rangnick said on Monday that United were "six years behind" Liverpool and said that there could be up to ten new players brought in as part of what he called a "rebuild".

When the German was hired as interim manager, the club said he had also agreed to a two-year consultancy with United.

Ajax had wanted to avoid any distractions in the final weeks of the season where they remain in a battle for the title with PSV Eindhoven.

Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar, the former United goalkeeper said they had wanted to keep Ten Hag in charge for longer.

"Four and a half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer. He is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world, in a fantastic league," he told the club's official website.

"We owe Erik a lot of thanks for what he has achieved with Ajax so far but we are not done yet. At the end of the season, I will look back more extensively on his departure. For now, what matters is the final games of the season in which we all want to bring home the league title." (Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Hritika Sharma; editing by Jason Neely and Pritha Sarkar)

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