Manchester United’s summer transfer window couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. They finally landed their number one target, superstar Jadon Sancho, in an extremely club friendly £71 million pound deal (amounting to about £14 million per year) and then moving swiftly to sign centre back Raphael Varane (also for a very club friendly fee) all before the calendar turned to August.
With their top two targets locked up fans were giddy as United now had plenty of time to focus filling in the last few holes in the squad, namely another midfielder and a backup right back.
Not so fast my friends.
While reports from both sides are confident that United will ultimately finalize a deal for Atletico Madrid right back Kieran Trippier that deal is currently on hold. United also reportedly have a deal on the table for a midfielder (hopefully Saul not Ruben Neves) but that too will have to wait as United are now shifting to prioritizing outgoings.
Outgoings, those pesky things.
Financially, United can add another player or two without selling anyone but since they currently have a bloated squad there’s a real need to ensure that players leave before adding any more and resulting in an over-bloated squad. Just because they could afford to pay all those players, doesn’t mean it’s any less stupid to actually do it.
Just like last season the outgoings are going to take time and will ultimately drag on until the final few days of the window. That means ultimately most of United’s business won’t be done until the 11th hour.
Moving along the deadweight isn’t the same as finalizing a deal for a Sancho or Varane. Sancho and Varane had both made it clear they wanted to leave. Varane had one year left on his contract and Real Madrid were desperate for money. Borussia Dortmund wanted to get a move on finding replacements for Sancho. It was in everyones best interests to get those deals done.
For United’s current outgoings it’s a completely different story. United don’t need time to seek replacements, they’re simply trying to get the best deal possible.
Andreas Pereira is not going to be at Manchester United for the 2021-22 season. He has no future at Old Trafford and he knows it. He wants to play football and he’s gone on record saying if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t going to give him opportunities he should let him leave.
United are happy to do that but they want to get a fee for him. The same goes with Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot. All three players have suitors but all those suitors deem United’s asking price of £20 million, £30 million and £25 million respectively to be too high.
This is where the waiting game comes in. United can’t bend on one of those deals this early in the window because that would just send a message to the clubs interested in the other players that United are going to buckle.
The problem for United is they don’t hold any of the cards. Those other clubs know these players aren’t in Solskjaer’s plans. They know that United have too many players and won’t be able to register them all for the Premier League and Champions League. Last season there wasn’t room in the Premier League squad for Phil Jones until January when Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and Jesse Lingard all left.
United will eventually have to offload these players and if no one comes calling at the listed price that price will come down, but there’s no point in bringing it down before you have to.
Last week The Athletic’s Adam Crafton wrote that Jesse Lingard is “even more likely to remain at Old Trafford in the event Paul Pogba leaves, as he is perceived as an option both in the wide positions and as a no. 8 in midfield, where he played for England at the 2018 World Cup.”
That was just about the funniest thing I’ve read this summer. We know Lingard isn’t an option out wide because *gestures at all the options we have there* but we especially know that United aren’t considering using him as a number 8 because Pogba has gotten injured plenty of times in the last two years and United have never used him there. Even at the start of the 2019-20 season when Lingard was coming off a very good 2018-19 campaign and United only had two fit midfielders.
Now I’m not calling out the credibility of Adam Crafton or The Athletic because I 100 percent believe that a United coach actually said this to Crafton. It’s an A+ negotiating through the media move.
West Ham know that Lingard is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford and they’re going to need to get rid of him. United are trying to tell West Ham that Lingard is a crucial piece of their squad and if they want him they’ll have to pay.
Last summer United wanted to move these players on but there was no market for them and ultimately they accepted loan deals in the final days. This season there’s a legitimate chance they could offload them permanently but now it’s simply getting the right price.
United have named their prices for these players. The other teams will bid significantly lower than that and eventually they’ll meet somewhere closer to the buying clubs original bid than United’s asking price. It’s no different than Real Madrid wanting €50 and even €70 million for Varane and settling for about €40 million, it’s just that United are on the other side of this one.
It would be nice for United to get everything done quickly, especially if they could get their last few signings in before the first match of the season but they’re really in no rush. Even the notion that Pogba might leave and they need to replace him is hogwash.
Just like United, PSG are focused on clearing money off their wage bill before they can make an official bid for Pogba. Just like United, moving on those players is much easier said than done and will likely drag down to the end of the window.
Eduardo Camavinga has already said he won’t be making his decision until the end of the window as he holding out hope for Barcelona to come in for him. Someone might want to inform him about Barca’s (lack of) financial situation or how they still haven’t been able to register any of their new signings and that moving for Camavinga is simply not possible.
If it were up to me, I’d probably slash those prices in half and just be happy with getting £25 million combined for Lingard, Pereira, and Dalot. It’s a weak market, those guys aren’t worth much, and getting them out is more important than getting a good price. United should take what they can get.
But Manchester United have been taken advantage of in the transfer market far too often this decade and every time that happens it hurts them more and more in future deals. Over the past two seasons they’ve been getting noticeably better at walking away from bad deals and not getting taken advantage of. It’s probably best to let them keep doing just that.
Last season the outgoings dragged on to the final days before United settled for loans. Chris Smalling was eventually sold and within minutes Alex Telles was signed for roughly the same price. United then signed Facundo Pellestri, Amad Diallo, and Edinson Cavani all on deadline day.
This season is likely to play out the same way. United will hold out until the deadline gets close and then accept smaller fees for these players (and if they’re really smart, they’ll only sell Lingard this season and move Pereira and Dalot on loans with an OBLIGATION to buy next year). If United do already have deals on the table for a midfielder(s) and Trippier then this is totally ok.
We’re just going to have to be patient.