Let the Transfer Muppetry Begin!
The summer is finally upon us, which means transfer season is here. If we are to believe Joel Glazer’s statement after the fan forum on June 5th, there will be “significant” investment in United this summer. During this forum, fans promised more fan consultation, a fan share scheme, heavy commitment in the transfer market this summer and considerable investment in the stadium and training facilities.
I, like most of you, am calling bullshit! I’ll believe it when I see it.
So, lets for a moment imagine that this isn’t all a farce to appease the fans and media. Lets fantasize for a moment on what could happen this summer. From this point on please take the rest of this article with a large pinch of salt.
The fans and pundits mostly agree that United need the following: a starting central defender, defensive or holding midfielder, right winger and depth at rightback. We could also use a striker in the next two transfer windows in anticipation of Cavani leaving after next season.
Do we Have the Transfer Funds to Make Deals Happen?
Given the frugal lack of prowess from the Glazers I highly doubt all of the following players will leave, but there are plenty of player swap deals to be done if we are clever about it. The biggest limitation to us in this window will likely be the massive wage packets that some of these players have. With how much money they make at United, it will be hard to find another club out there willing to pick up the tab.
Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira are already out the door. Tom Heaton is replacing them as backup keeper. There are however, more players that are largely dead weight at United.
Who NEEDS to go?
Phil Jones has been perpetually injured since the 2015/16 season. Supposedly he has had a series of knocks, a knee injury and a hamstring injury. At this point I don’t really care what injuries he has had. He is making $156K a week. If he is so injury prone that he can’t even make it off of the training pitch, his isn’t worth that kind of money.
Unfortunately for us, over the last few seasons, there has been no market for Jones. Without consistent game time he is an unknow entity to any potential buyer.
My verdict, he will be sold for less then $7million to the first club that comes along, if we are lucky. I’m not optimistic he will have any suiters this summer, but one can hope. At the very least, he is number one on most fans lists’ of players that need to be sold.
Credit to Jesse, he has made himself a commodity again with his loan stint at West Ham. He picked up nine goals and four assists in sixteen starts for the Hammers making him their player of the month for April.
Lingard’s biggest road block at United is that he plays as a No.10 or a right sided forward/right winger. With Bruno, Pogba and van de Beek he will never play as a 10. If we do sign Jadon Sancho, which seems likely, then he will be fourth or fifth choice behind Sancho, Greenwood, Rashford and possibly even Dan James and Amad Diallo off the right.
At the age of 28, he will never see another game at United and we can use the $30million he is reportedly worth to bolster our own transfer budget. He could also prove a useful make weight in Manchester United’s pursuit of Declan Rice.
Pereira has been loaned out every season since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at United. He clearly doesn’t fancy the midfielder and has been pawning him off on other teams until Ed Woodward and Co. can find a permanent suiter for him.
The difficulty with Andreas is that he didn’t exactly paint himself in the same light as Lingard. His loan spells have been less then successful and have done little more then confirm why Ole is not interested in him. Like Jones, he is high on the exit list with very little interest in his services elsewhere. We might be best cutting our losses on Jones and Andreas and just release them.
Dalot has done reasonably well in his loan spell this season at AC Milan. After 33 appearances for the Rossoneri, its clear that Serie A is more his speed. Hopefully, he is the easiest player to unload this summer, with Milan reportedly interested in his permanent signature. Dalot is only valued between $10million and $15million, but that is still more funds to put towards another player.
Dalot can be a good player, but he isn’t good enough to displace Wan-Bissaka and he isn’t good enough to push Wan-Bissaka to another level like Telles did with Shaw.
Who MIGHT Go?
I also think that he was chosen for the last game of the season at Old Trafford and not substituted in the Europa League final as a final farewell. Having just had a baby, rumors of him wanting to go back to Spain to be closer to his family have only accelerated.
The problem is that Henderson, by in large, has not done enough to prove he can be our No.1. The question remains, will United loose faith in Hendo and sell him? Or, do we treat him the same as we did De gea early in his career?
After succeeding Edwin Van der Sar, De gea was young, slight and full of mistakes. Ferguson showed faith in him and he developed into the world’s best goalkeeper, for a time. We can do the same with Hendo and see where it takes us next season. I don’t think any United fans would be opposed to seeing how he develops.
The rest of the players that could potentially leave United this summer are likely to only leave if they are used as a makeweight in another deal. Paul Pogba, Dan James, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial are all players that I am sure Solskjaer would be happy to hold onto. However, in this market they are also the only players that we have that we would be willing to part with that also have enough market value to use in player plus cash deals.
Let the Rumors Begin.
As usual United have been linked with a laundry list of players this summer. The strongest links seem to be with Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice and Kieran Trippier. Add to that list our links with Rafael Varane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Erling Haaland, Danny Ings, Jack Grealish, Kingsley Coman, Yves Bissouma, Jan Oblak, Pau Torres, and the ever-gratuitous Sergio Ramos link. So, according to the media Ole wants to buy a whole new team this summer.
Ole has openly said he would like three to four new players this summer, three to compete in the first team immediately and one to provide depth. It has also been reported in some circles that Ole will be given a $150million transfer budget this summer.
Again, I am sure we are all calling bullshit. But for the sake of transfer muppetry, lets continue our summer fantasy transfer window assuming this is our budget.
We can immediately cross Kane, Haaland and Ings off this list. After re-signing Cavani, Martial returning to training and Greenwood and Rashford preferring to play more centrally, United are well stocked with strikers and can’t afford to spend the $150-$170million on a new striker if we want to bring in up to three more players.
I also think that teams are going to hold out on Haaland until next summer when his buyout clause drops by half. I know Chelsea are courting him, but I can’t seem them shelling out that much money in this market.
Oblak, I think is also a hard pass considering his $110million buyout clause. It is also safe to assume the Ramos links are tabloid fishing expeditions and click bait, as they always have been.
The Reality of it All.
Grealish and Coman are likely a back up if the Sancho move falls through. That is unlikely considering the Glazers know they need a marquee signing to appease the fans and by all counts that signing is going to be Sancho. The most likely deals I see happening are Sancho, Trippier to provide competition to Wan-Bissaka, Rice (Bissouma as a back-up) and Varane (with Torres as a backup).
However, to make all these deals work, the new Manchester United crack team of transfer gurus (sense my sarcasm) are going to have their hands full.
SHOW ME THE MONEY!
$150 million doesn’t go far in the current market. In an ideal world the sale of Pereira, Lingard, Jones, and Dalot can net us about $40million. So, for the sake of a little footballer window shopping let’s assume we add that to our current budget, giving us $190million to spend. This still will not be enough, hence using existing players in player plus cash deals.
We will likely pay cash our of hand for Sancho, so immediately subtract about $110million from the budget. Dortmund is sourced as wanting at least €85million with at least €77.5million up front. This translates into a little more than $110 million up front.
Let’s assume, after signing Sancho we now have about $80million to play with. Trippier (valued at $35million), Varane ($60million) and Rice ($75million) tallies up another $170million. Thus, a lot of player plus cash deals will need to be done. This is also assuming the best case scenario with regards to our actual transfer budget.
Transfer Deals that Can be Made.
I think the only reason Dalot hasn’t been sold to Milan on a permanent basis yet is because they are trying to use him in a deal to bring in Trippier. Dalot plus $15 million would be more then reasonable to bring the England international to Manchester United.
Jesse Lingard has been valued at about $25 million. If I were in charge of United transfers, I would offer Lingard plus either Mata or Matic and $35-$40 million for Rice. This would be a good deal for all parties involved. The problem is West Ham are rumored to want all cash and no players.
United cannot afford this so it is also possible that we will offer Lingard plus $50 million in a second bid that is likely to be turned down. If those two bids are rejected, then United will likely turn to Bissouma for only $30 million. We could easily pay cash out of hand for Bissouma and sell Lingard to West Ham in a separate deal to recoup. I see this as the most likely scenario, though Bissouma is a hot commodity this summer and may be snatched up before we arrive on the scene.
Varane is where it gets tricky. He is valued at $60 million and we just don’t have that cash. I can imagine that Madrid would be very interested in a swap deal considering their financial situation is worse than ours. Martial and Pogba can both be makeweights in this scenario. I see either a straight swap with Pogba, or Martial plus $20million to do this deal. Though it seems that United are now more interested in negotiating a new contract with Pogba so maybe the latter is more likely. Though at $30 million, Torres is a more Woodward-esque signing.
The Man, The Legend, CR7
Their is also the possibility a nostalgic reunion of one of Manchester United’s greatest ever No.7’s, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has been fishing for a new team for a few weeks. United are one of the few teams that would both be interested and be able to pay his wages. He only has a year on his contract. It wouldn’t be beyond the stretch of imagination to use Pogba or De gea in a player swap deal.
Ronaldo’s current valuation is about $50 million. Again, with United trying to extend Pogba’s deal, De gea or Martial might be the more likely makeweight in this deal. Not to mention Buffon is leaving Juve and De gea on his worst day is better than Szczesny. Juve could very much use DeGea.
Juve also need to shift Ronaldo’s massive wages off their books. United and PSG are likely the only ones that afford his wage structure. All things considered, I think all parties involved would prefer a poetic return to the Red Devils. I’d give this one 50/50 shot of happening.
The End Game
If things go perfectly this summer, which they seldom do, then we can potentially bring in Sancho, Rice, Trippier, Varane and Ronaldo. It would only cost us of $190million, Anthony Martial, David DeGea, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Diogo Dalot, Andreas Pereira, and potentially one of Mata or Matic. A fair trade by all counts, sigh.
I also think that next summer we will be battling it out for Haaland as potentially our only signed. That said, my intuition tells me that we will only be getting rid of Lingard and Dalot. It also tells me that we will mostly likely only sign Sancho, Torres and possibly Bissouma. That is likely to be it for our summer ins and outs, though one can dream about the possibilities.
Glory, Glory Man United.