Man Utd: Report addresses ‘bizarre, fanciful and inaccurate conspiracy theories’ over Ten Hag’s missing man

Joe Williams
Man Utd duo Tyrell Malacia and Erik ten Hag
Tyrell Malacia hands the ball to Erik ten Hag during a Premier League match.

The delay to Tyrell Malacia returning for Man Utd is ‘overwhelmingly down to the complications that can arise with any injury’ despite conspiracy theories on social media, according to reports.

Malacia arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2022 with Erik ten Hag giving the green light to bring in the left-back from Eredivisie side Feyenoord for around €17m.

The Netherlands international was in and out the team in his first season with the 24-year-old battling it out with Luke Shaw for the left-back spot.

Man Utd have had to deal with key absentees and been left light in certain areas, most problematically left-back as Shaw’s issues have compounded the season-long absence of Malacia.

Ten Hag, who is coming under pressure at Man Utd, said in February that he soon hoped to have the Netherlands international back from a knee complaint, having dealt with some setbacks during rehab.

But Ten Hag, who has been using Aaron Wan-Bissaka in their place, will have to keep muddling through at left-back for the foreseeable future after he revealed Malacia’s return is unlikely to come this season.

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“We talk about one of my biggest frustrations is there,” Ten Hag said in March.

“You can accept in a position that a player is not available, but when two players are not available over the course of the season that is very frustrating.

“Because that is also very difficult to catch up as a team, but we dealt with it in the best way, but of course it is a disadvantage.”

Asked how far away Malacia is from returning, the Man Utd boss said: “I think it’s going to be difficult for this season to be available.

“He will fight, he’s back on the pitch, but not in the team and the process had some setbacks and is still going really slowly forward, and the season is going to an end.”

There have been lots of theories flying around on social media and between Man Utd supporters about why Malacia – who was even linked with a January move away from Old Trafford – has been out so long with The Athletic rejecting ‘inaccurate’ claims.

‘To make matters worse, the void of information around his absence has been filled by bizarre, fanciful and inaccurate conspiracy theories on social media.

‘Malacia has been largely quiet online himself, not posting to his X and Instagram accounts since last summer. He has, however, appeared in posts modelling clothing for ForevaDifferent, a fashion brand owned by a childhood friend, with the most recent being posted on February 3.

‘Despite the gossip, intrigue and conspiracy spreading, the delay to his return is overwhelmingly down to the complications that can arise with any injury, particularly with a joint as complex as the knee.

‘But even if Malacia’s recovery has been unfortunate, there is a sense that the parties involved could have done things differently to have ensured an earlier return.’

And The Athletic has revealed that other players have sometimes been given ‘priority’ over Malacia during his rehab because they were closer to returning.

‘Rather than any missteps in the initial stages of his rehabilitation, others, at least partly, put Malacia’s delayed return down to United’s medical department not always having the capacity to give the player the level of attention required.

‘United’s busy schedule of fixtures, particularly in the first half of the campaign, is said to have meant that Malacia was at times only able to take part in rehabilitation work four days a week, with the other three taken up by matches or staff days off.

‘This season’s consistently long injury list at Old Trafford has been a factor, sometimes stretching the medical department’s resources. Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect relationships, have indicated that other players set to return sooner have sometimes had to take priority over Malacia.

‘United insist that no strategic decision was made on Malacia’s rehabilitation at any point and are fully confident in the care and support that the player has received from the medical department.’