Home » Erik ten Hag’s transfer budget revealed as Man United hit with UEFA spend limit

Erik ten Hag’s transfer budget revealed as Man United hit with UEFA spend limit

by David O'Neill

Manchester United’s summer window has officially begun, with Erik ten Hag having already drawn up his shortlist and the club making enquiries. Among the priority positions of interest to the manager are central midfield and striker, in Declan Rice and Harry Kane, there are two presumably ideal targets ripe for the taking.

Rice, despite United’s long term interest, looks set to swap West Ham United for London rivals Arsenal, with a £100m deal looking ever more likely to go through in the summer’s infancy.

In the case of Harry Kane, a deal never looked all that likely to get off the ground, with the sort of fees demanded by Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy a huge stumbling block, despite the England captain entering the last year of his contract.

The temptation is to put United’s inability to pull the trigger on such obvious targets down to the ongoing takeover saga, but, according to Mail Sport, Financial Fair Play restrictions are the real impediment. A UEFA ruling last year makes clear that, by the 2025/2026 season, clubs cannot spend more than 70% of their total revenue on transfers, wages, and agents’ fees. This was introduced on a sliding scale, meaning that the percentage this year will be 90%, reducing to 80% next year, and then the eventual target the following.

In Man United’s case, last summer’s massive overspend has left them owing a significat sum of transfer debt still to be paid off. Thus they are unable to compete in the £100m-bracket, meaning targets such as Rice and Kane – no-brainers who would solve areas of immediate need with minimal fuss – are simply not realistic options for Ten Hag. Even Mason Mount, a player who is both well-admired by Ten Hag and is actively pushing for a move, is starting to look unattainable due to funds.

Instead, insists Mail Sport, United are shopping for players around the £50m-mark, due to the club having an “upper limit” of £120m for this summer’s spend. Were the Glazer family to sell to Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who is promising to clear the club’s debt, Ten Hag would benefit from an immediate £50m boost as a result. But any notion of signing Kylian Mbappe and a couple of other £100m+ players would remain an impossibility.

The only other route to increasing the transfer budget is through player sales. Dean Henderson looks to be waiting on the ratification of David de Gea’s contract renewal before the completion of a move to Nottingham Forest in a deal which could reportedly be worth around £25m. Alex Telles has garnered interest from Galatasary, while Eric Bailly is also expected to find a new club.

But beyond that, United will need to sell players in their current first team squad to raise funds. And while the likes of Harry Maguire, Fred and Scott McTominay have been linked with moves away from Old Trafford, it is worth remembering that these are players who will need replacing, thereby placing an additional strain on Ten Hag’s summer budget.

It is because of all of this that United are expected to “get creative” this summer as they look to retool their squad. Rasmus Hojlund, a raw and relatively untested 20-year-old, is regarded as a more realistic addition, with the club moving swiftly on from a potential Harry Kane saga.

Months of haggling over price could lay ahead for Mason Mount, in the hopes that United can bring Chelsea closer to the £50m-mark than the £80m The Blues are currently demanding. Failing that, United may need to look outside the Premier League for midfield additions. As for Rice, the speed with which Arsenal have acted on their interest left United with little hope of raising the money needed to compete for the West Ham man – not if they wanted a striker as well. A contract offer to free agent Adrien Rabiot seems the most obvious alternative.

The summer window may have just begun, but it may end up being a long one for United fans, as they await a conclusion to the shambolic takeover process, all while wondering exactly how the club will cope with the UEFA-imposed financial limits.

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