Football’s financial meltdown is already starting to take shape and Manchester United find themselves in the midst of transfer and loan offerings as clubs attempt to offload players with big pay packets.
Players who were deemed untouchable before, such as Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez and Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti are suddenly being linked with moves – with the Red Devils inevitably reported to be interested.
Clubs that seemed to have bottomless pockets such as Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid are simply not in a position to buy their top transfer targets – reportedly Lautaro Martinez, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, respectively – unless they are able to reduce the wage bill significantly to make room for them.
They are also unable to raise huge transfer fees.
The result is that we are seeing a big rise in transfer, loan and player exchange stories concerning some of the biggest names at these top clubs.
Where Juventus are concerned, it has been reported that they have offered no less than five different players in part-exchange for Pogba – and four out of five are all names with high salaries – Aaron Ramsey (£200,000 per week), Douglas Costa (£170,000 per week), Miralem Pjanic (£187,000 per week) and Adrien Rabiot (£200,000 per week). Only Alex Sandro has a modest £50,000 per week wage.
Pjanic is also being widely reported to be on the verge of a swap move with Barcelona’s Arthur Melo.
Meanwhile Barcelona, desperate to sign Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, appear to be putting Philippe Coutinho (€215,000 per week), Ivan Rakitic (£228,000 per week) and Samuel Umtiti (£205,000 per week) up for sale.
The Red Devils have inevitably been linked with all three, but it is highly likely that the rumours started at Barça’s end. Umtiti may have been a target at one time, but his dreadful injury record surely rules him out of a move to Old Trafford.
Meanwhile Real Madrid are trying to offload Gareth Bale (£350,000 per week) and James Rodriguez (£285,000 per week). Unsurprisingly, there are few takers for either player even on a free transfer.
United themselves have a similar problem in offloading Alexis Sanchez, who earns between £375,000 and £500,000 per week depending on bonuses. It was also recently reported that owing to Dean Henderson’s fine performances for Sheffield United, the club is also interested in finding a buyer for David De Gea, who earns £375,000 per week.
In all likelihood most of these players will see out their contracts at their current clubs or in some cases be loaned out, as Sanchez was last season, with the loan club paying a percentage of the wages.
This all means that Paul Pogba, coveted by most of the world’s elite, is unlikely to move either, because of his own £300,000+ per week salary demands and still relatively high transfer fee.
United might have to finish their Premier League season at neutral grounds as the authorities try to ensure player safety. How much do you know about those neither-home-nor-away games the Red Devils have played in the past? Take our quiz below to find out.