Erik ten Hag has suggested some players can’t handle the pressure of representing Manchester United but insists signing for the club is still “the best challenge” for any footballer.

Ten Hag has sanctioned Donny van Beek’s loan move to Eintracht Frankfurt in the January window while Jadon Sancho is set to return to former club Borussia Dortmund, also on loan.

Van de Beek was on a Ballon d’Or shortlist before his £35m move from Ajax in 2020 and Sancho was one of the most promising young players in Europe when he arrived in a £73m deal from Dortmund in 2021.

Ten Hag, however, insists it’s not always the club’s fault when high-profile signings don’t work out.

“That is always on those players and how much confidence you have in your capabilities but I can tell you one thing; the Premier League is tough,” said Ten Hag.

“Man United; that is tough to play there because it’s easier to play in almost any other team than Man United because the pressure is that high, always. You have to deal with that.

“But if you have confidence in yourself, this is the best challenge and this is definitely the best club you want to be at as a player. It depends from player to player, and it depends especially on the character of the player, their personality.”

Sancho’s dip in form since his transfer to Old Trafford two-and-a-half years ago has seen the 23-year-old — exiled at United for the four months following a public fall-out with Ten Hag — lose his place in the England squad while Van de Beek was never able to win a regular place in midfield.

Van de Beek excelled under Ten Hag in a team which reached the Champions League semifinals in 2019, but the United manager said a series of injuries meant he was never able to reach the same level at Old Trafford, “He has had many injuries, first of all,” said Ten Hag.

“I worked with him for two years [at United] and before he was under different managers here. He had a loan before as well. Actually, from the first moment I came in here at Manchester United, he wasn’t the player he was at Ajax because he was injured.

“So many times he was not available and then he struggled for a long time to recover from that injury. That is probably the main reason why he was not playing.

“We decided for a loan in the summer but it didn’t come and then his opportunities are few because also we make appointments and we make agreements with players and contract players in that position. The competition was high.”

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