As transfer guru Fabrizio Romano tweets his famous “Here we go!” to signal Paris Saint Germain’s capture of FC Porto’s Vitinha, Manchester United fans are reaching boiling point as another target has seemingly been snatched from their club’s grasp.
United’s old “dumb and dumber” transfer negotiation team of Ed Woodward and Matt Judge has been replaced by the shiny new trio of CEO Richard Arnold, Director of Football John Murtough and, um, Darren “we’re not quite sure what he does, but he’s family” Fletcher.
Fans were hoping this would herald a new era in transfers, one in which deals are done quickly, efficiently and early.
So far, it feels like having replaced Smalling and Jones with Maguire and Varane, only to learn that we’re shipping even more goals than we were before.
United have to date failed to clinch the signing of their top target, Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, nor anyone else.
So have United swapped Dumb and Dumber for the Three Stooges? Is it a case of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as it would likely be described in some poncy animated self-promoting egotistical French documentary? Or are United being smart in this window?
First, De Jong. United have offered €60 million plus €10 million in variables. Market value €60 million. No other suitors (see below). Selling club in a worse financial situation than the Weimar Republic. Selling club needing to sell players to land Lewandowski and to offload salaries to register new signings.
Barça also have a deadline on June 30th to try to raise funds to avoid further penalties from La Liga. That’s just 12 days from today. The clock is ticking. Why on earth should United accede to their ridiculous €85m + €15m demands?
It seems that United are being very smart. They have submitted a fair price in the hopes that the Catalans will take it. And they have, or are about to, submit the bid they expected would be enough, of €70 million plus variables. But they have waited until near that 30th June deadline, not leaving Barcelona time to wriggle and haggle.
This deal will be done within the next 12 days, and all will be well. Fingers crossed.
To that end, let’s look at that Vitinha to PSG news. All week, out of the blue, United were being heavily linked with the Porto man. And then PSG popped up, paid the release clause and snatched him.
A like-for-like player to De Jong, just at a time that PSG were reported to be coming in for the Dutchman as well.
Could United’s Three Musketeers have heard on the grapevine that the French club were tossing up between Frenkie and the 22-year-old?
It would be very smart if United had started, or encouraged, rumours that they were about to trigger Vitinha’s release clause to flush out PSG.
Did they ever even really want him? The Portuguese international is a very promising player, but De Jong has already reached the heights that he may or may not achieve. Who would you rather have?
Now, PSG are out of the race to sign De Jong once and for all, leaving United sitting pretty. As pretty, anyway, as Darren Fletcher could ever hope to be.
Paris Saint-Germain are set to sign Vitinha from Porto, here we go! The official proposal worth €40m has been accepted after personal terms agreed today. 🚨🔵🔴 #PSG
PSG and Porto are now preparing paperworks. He’s gonna be the first signing of Luís Campos, his real priority. pic.twitter.com/0BzQZd7nVy
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 17, 2022
Portuguese clubs are adept at getting top money for their stars, and United’s name could have been used, again, by Benfica to push Liverpool into signing Darwin Nunez. €100 million is a ridiculous price for a player who has had one good season in a non-big-five league. Yes, it may prove to be a bargain, yes, he may score 40 for Liverpool next season, but would you have paid that if you were Richard Arnold and co.?
United could probably never have landed City’s new signing Erling Haaland at this stage, but remember that the reason he went to Borussia Dortmund in the first place was that the Red Devils refused to include a buy-out clause in his contract. Had they agreed and got him, they would have just lost him.
Before Haaland has even kicked a ball for City, the Spanish press are claiming that Real Madrid – the player’s reported preferred destination – plan to trigger his new €150m+ release clause in 2024. So City may also lose him in two years. United would not have wanted a deal like that, and who can blame them?
Understand Erling Haaland release clause is significantly more than €150m.ALL of Haaland suitors would have had to include release clause in deal. #MCFC sense sour grapes among those who missed out. Guardiola says will decide future at end of next season https://t.co/3mMN6uJEcc
— James Ducker (@TelegraphDucker) May 12, 2022
United may yet surprise us all. They may still sign De Jong, Christian Eriksen, a holding midfielder such as Ibrahim Sangaré, a forward such as Lille’s Jonathan David, Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku, Ajax’s Antony or Derby’s Malcolm Ebiowei and a centre back such as Jurrien Timber or David Carmo. That wouldn’t be a bad window, would it?
Three musketeers or three stooges? We’ll know come 11pm on September 1st.