Manchester United are exploring alternative options to hiring Robin van Persie as part of the club’s new coaching staff under Erik ten Hag, the favored candidate to become manager this summer, due to concerns that the 38-year-old will not be able to secure a UK work permit, sources have told ESPN.
ESPN reported on Wednesday that Ajax Amsterdam coach Ten Hag is the number one choice to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as permanent manager, replacing interim boss Ralf Rangnick, following a recruitment process that has seen the former Utrecht and Bayern Munich reserve team coach emerge ahead of Paris Saint Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino.
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And with United confident that a deal can be struck with Ajax and Ten Hag, efforts are already being made to hire a coach with knowledge and experience of the Premier League to work within Ten Hag’s backroom team.
But while United and Ten Hag have both identified Van Persie as a potential appointment, post-Brexit rules in the United Kingdom ensure that all overseas players and coaching staff must be granted a Governing Body Exemption (GBE) to work in the Premier League or EFL and sources have said that the former Arsenal and United forward’s lack of top-level coaching experience is likely to count against him in any application process.
Van Persie, who scored 58 goals in 105 appearances for United between 2012-2015, has been coaching in the Netherlands with Feyenoord since May 2020, having initially taken an informal role as an assistant, focusing on training the club’s striker, under former coach Dick Advocate.
Since May 2021, Van Persie has coached Feyenoord’s under-16 team and worked alongside head coach Arne Slot with the first team on training days, but with the former Netherlands international unable to point to a prolonged period of experience coaching at senior level, sources have said that the English Football Association may be unable to grant a GBE.
United were forced to delay the appointment of Rangnick as interim coach following Solskjaer’s dismissal last November due to the former Schalke, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig’s coach having to wait for his GBE to be issued.
And United also had to apply for a GBE for first-team coach Chris Armas, who arrived at Old Trafford last December after building up 13 years of coaching and management experience in the United States.
Sources have told ESPN that Steve McClaren and Rene Meulensteen, who both worked on Sir Alex Ferguson’s coaching staff at United, are being considered as possible appointments to work under Ten Hag.