Man Utd news: Wout Weghorst future may not be bright despite Betis goal after Ten Hag hint | Football | Sport

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has admitted he did not anticipate Wout Weghorst would start every game when arriving on loan and has dropped a concerning hint over the striker’s long-term future. The target man has been a consistent starter since signing from Burnley in January and his impact on the team has been recognised in the absence of striker Anthony Martial.

The 30-year-old bagged his second goal for the club in the 4-1 win over Real Betis in their Europa League last-16 first leg at Old Trafford and his emotional celebration displayed how the striker is living out a dream wearing the club’s red shirt.

The Dutchman, a January loan signing from Burnley, has started all 15 games since he arrived in January after ending a temporary spell at Besiktas early. Only two goals have followed in that period including his strike against Betis, but Weghorst’s tireless work rate in the frontline has not gone unnoticed by the United fans – who already view him as a cult hero – or Ten Hag.

“I think as you see he is often in the right position, then he fails but he keeps going,” Ten Hag told reporters. “So, he showed great personality and character, not only in this game.

“He could have [scored] early on his goal but he keeps focused, keeps working, keeps putting himself in the right positions and finally he got his goal and his reward.”

However, it remains to be seen what role Weghorst will play when Martial returns from injury. The Frenchman has been sidelined since January with a hip injury and the 27-year-old has managed only nine appearances this season, although he has recently returned to training. And Ten Hag’s comments appear to infer that Martial remains his first choice when both players are fit.

When asked if he thought Weghorst would play 15 games by this point, Ten Hag said: “Did I expect? I expect that he would play a lot but obviously we have an injury with Anthony Martial, so that’s obvious that’s the main reason he’s playing every game from start to almost finish.”

Having faced calls to sell Martial, it seems more likely that the Dutch coach will move to bring in a big-name signing to fill the central striker role.

Napoli star Victor Osimhen has been linked with a £100million move in the summer, while Dusan Vlahovic remains another option if Ten Hag wants a similar profile to Weghorst with a more prolific scoring record.

Ten Hag was clear about the team’s need for a focal point in attack and Weghorst – who has also been trialled as a makeshift No 10 – has performed admirably in that role. But his limitations have been evident, such as in the 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool when Virgil van Dijk handled his presence effectively.

And it seems to be clear that, if the Netherlands international is intent on staying at Old Trafford, he may need to settle for a backup position in the squad.

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