Manchester United have appointed Erik ten Hag as their new manager.

ESPN reported earlier this month that United were set to finalise the appointment of Ten Hag, and the Dutchman has agreed a three-year deal to take over at Old Trafford, with the option of another year.

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Ten Hag becomes United’s fifth permanent manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, following David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Former players Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick have also held caretaker positions during that time.

“It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United, and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead,” Ten Hag said. “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 have told ESPN that United football director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher led the search for a new boss, with new CEO Richard Arnold only engaging in the process “in the final stages.”

Murtough and Fletcher, according to sources, chose Ten Hag as their No.1 candidate because of all the options considered he was the one who “most closely aligned with the club’s identity and strategy.”

They were particularly impressed with Ten Hag’s record at Ajax, his style of football and his ability to improve young players. Sources have told ESPN that during negotiations, Ten Hag set out a “compelling long-term vision” for a successful, exciting team.

Solskjaer was sacked in November and replaced with interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who is set to take up a consultancy role.

“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,” Murtough said of the appointment.

“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.

“We wish Erik the best of luck as he focuses on achieving a successful end to the season at Ajax and look forward to welcoming him to Manchester United this summer.”

Ten Hag will stay in charge of Ajax until the end of the season before taking over at United. Ajax lead the Eredivisie table and sit four points clear of second-place PSV Eindhoven with five matches remaining. Ajax end their campaign with a trip to Vitesse on May 15.

“I’m happy that it has been finalised and that it has been officially announced,” Ten Hag said of his move to United. “That clarity is important.

“But I only have one interest now and that’s these last five games. I want to finish my time here on a positive note, by winning the league. By doing so, we’ll qualify directly for the Champions League. Ajax belongs there.”

Ten Hag, 52, has been at Ajax since December 2017, winning the league and cup double in 2019 and 2021, and leading them to the Champions League semifinals in 2019 after knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus along the way.

He has also had spells at Utrecht and Bayern Munich II, where he worked under Pep Guardiola.

“Four and a half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer,” Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar said. “He is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world, in a fantastic league.

“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.”

Ten Hag, who has beaten Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino to land the job at United, played more than 300 league games as a defender in the Netherlands during a playing career that spanned 13 years.

The Dutch coach is the latest man tasked with turning around one of the world’s leading clubs following a steep decline after Ferguson’s retirement nine years ago. Moyes lasted 11 months before his successor Van Gaal managed two seasons, winning the FA Cup before he was replaced. Mourinho was sacked during his third season at the club, having won the League Cup and Europa League in 2017 — United’s last taste of silverware.

Solskjaer initially joined on a caretaker basis in 2018 but was handed the job full time in March 2019 following a run of 14 wins from his first 19 in charge. However, after losing last season’s Europa League final to Villarreal on penalties, Solskjaer oversaw a sharp downturn in results this term and was sacked in November.

Rangnick, appointed on an interim basis, has struggled to improve results. United are in a scrap for the fourth remaining Champions League spot for next season.

Ten Hag’s arrival will coincide with what is likely to be a summer of change at Old Trafford, with two key scouts leaving the club and Rangnick claiming as many as 10 players are needed to kick-start a rebuild for a side that will mark 10 years since their last title win in 2023.