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Why Manchester United struggled to sell players this summer

by Conner Botterill

Manchester United summer window ended with seven new players through the doors at Old Trafford but not before a frantic last day which saw half of the additions join.

Sofyan Amrabat, Sergio Reguilon and Altay Bayindir were the deadline day signings, adding Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund who were acquired before the new season started. Jonny Evans’ one-year deal was also announced.

United spent the majority of the market trying to raise funds through player sales but only managed to offload only £50 million worth of talent.

Anthony Elanga, Fred, Dean Henderson and Alex Telles made up the bulk of the total amount raised but United expected further outgoings.

Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek were the most high-profile players transfer listed by the club, yet United couldn’t shift them.

The Athletic delved into the main reasons behind United’s struggle to sell and cited the high wages players are earning at the club as a key reason behind their lack of willingness to move on.

“United believe their struggle to sell is a consequence of handing out highly lucrative contracts that become difficult to offload, which was a factor,” writes the Athletic.

The club are looking to combat the issue by handing out lesser base wage contracts to players and allowing others on extortionate salaries to leave the club at the end of their deals, a la David de Gea.

The new strategy will focus on performance-related contracts and means United will have to do their due diligence on the type of players they onboard, moving forward.

Selling players has been a legacy issue for a number of years. David Beckham’s £25 million move to Real Madrid in 2003 is still ranked in United’s top five transfer fees received, an incredible statistic that underpins the club’s inability to work the market.

Incredibly, the approximate £50 million raised this summer is the highest total since 2019, when Romelu Lukaku’s £73m move to Inter Milan made up the vast majority of that year’s transfer income.

United are way behind rivals when it comes to selling players for profits, with Chelsea and Manchester City in particular streets ahead in money gained through transfers. Chelsea sold players worth £220 million this summer alone.

Erik ten Hag eventually got the majority of his targets through the door but there remains an untidy way United go about their business, which has stemmed from poor decisions over the last decade, in particular.

After losing two of their opening four fixtures, United are already playing catch-up on the pitch this season – a direct consequence of playing catch-up off the pitch, for far too long.

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