Manchester United’s lack of transfer activity this summer is as concerning in terms of sales as it is in terms of signings.
In a rather hopeful piece by The MEN‘s Samuel Luckhurst this morning, the reporter notes that ‘the Man United website lists 31 players in their first-team section for this season and that number has to be significantly cut to justify more signings.’
Few Manchester United fans would disagree with Luckhurst’s list but with only four weeks of the transfer window remaining, there is little noise in the market concerning any of them.
Smalling is arguably the closest to leaving, but the push-me-pull-you negotiations between United and Roma have become farcical. Report after report from both Italy and England seem to bring the two clubs closer to an agreement around the inevitable €18 million (£16m) mark, only for fresh reports to put the two sides wider apart again, with one offering €12 million and the other demanding €20 million plus bonuses.
If United cannot close a deal for a player who has proven himself at the buying club, who desperately want him, for whom he desperately wants to play and who have been in negotiations for him for nine months, what hope is there that the other five stars will be sold in the next four weeks?
Smalling has only recently taken down his Twitter profile and cover photos in which he is holding a Roma scarf and shirt, but despite being back in training at Carrington, he has not replaced them with anything United related. He now describes himself as ‘Nike athlete. Patron of Football Beyond Borders,’ not even referencing being a United player.
Rojo also wants to return to his loan club Estudiantes, but again, United have been unable to find a deal for him and are reportedly demanding £12 million for a player they should be grateful to lose on a free if it gets his wages off their books. Whilst we do not know the ins and outs of the situation, on the surface of it, United are wasting month after month trying to get an amount that nobody will be willing to pay for their player.
There are no such suitors for the other centre-back in Luckhurst’s list, Phil Jones, but it is unsurprising since reports recently claimed that United are withholding surgery for the player because they want to sell him. What club will buy a player knowing that he will immediately need to go under the knife? And how unethical is it to put money ahead of the player’s physical health?
There are also surprisingly few rumours about Lingard and Pereira – some very vague murmurs about Newcastle and Everton for the former and some equally weak stories about Valencia and Benfica regarding the latter. The two could prove to be the most difficult of all to move on, as they are both academy graduates who simply do not appear to want to leave.
Goalkeeper Romero, the final name on the list, should be easy to transfer. He has almost 100 caps for Argentina, is a model professional and is highly regarded throughout the game. His £70,000 per week wages should not be too much of a problem for most top-flight clubs.
Again, with one year remaining on his contract and being valued at just £2 m by Transfermarkt due to his age, United could and should allow him to leave on a free, but they will no doubt follow the Smalling/Rojo route and hold out for silly money that nobody will be willing to pay.
This, then, is the rather unappealing display that window dresser Ed Woodward has put in United’s store front. If it is true that the Red Devils need to sell before they can buy this summer, fans could be forgiven for not expecting any Sanchos and Upamecanos to be arriving any time soon.
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