As one the most publicised sides in world football, the Manchester United transfer window last season was certainly a surprising one. As a team struggling to regain their status as one of the nation’s elite forces, and having fallen short of Champions League qualification, the club found itself still able to lure four of Europe’s most sought-after players thanks to an unrivalled combination of financial power and commercial attractiveness. Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, joined a re-tooling Manchester United.
Ed Woodward was rightfully praised for his efforts last summer, but one year later and, despite securing Champions League football via the Europa League, Manchester United so far have one foot on the plane to their preseason tour of the US and only one new signing to show off to airport security.
The Manchester United Transfer Window So Far
Much like last summer, Mourinho established his targets early on. The manager claimed they have been known to Woodward ‘since March’, asking eagerly anticipating fans and journalists alike to just ‘wait and see’. That was early June.
Since, Victor Lindelof has been the only incoming during a frustrating few weeks for the club’s followers. While Antione Griezmann was widely expected to be one of the first through the door at Carrington, an Atletico Madrid transfer ban and an immense demonstration of loyalty from the French striker shepherded United’s interest elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the world of media has been subjected to guesswork following suggestions of a complete blockage to the news feed from the Old Trafford offices, in debt to the outcome of the Griezmann spectacle.
So, to put it bluntly, no one knows what’s going on.
The most substantial of reported targets have ranged from Alvaro Morata to former fan favourite Javier Hernandez, from in-demand midfielders Fabinho and Radja Nainggolan to Nemanja Matic and supposed wonderkid Renato Sanches, and from Ivan Perisic to the unlikely hero’s return, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Yet it’s probable none have even packed for the inevitable overcast of the North of England, let alone reached a total agreement with the club.
Morata, 24, is considered the player most likely to sign before Mourinho departs with what he hoped would be a completed squad on Sunday, with implications of a breakthrough over the weekend from Spanish media. However it is also suggested that Woodward sees Madrid’s lofty asking price, said to be around £80 million, too heavy.
And that has seemed to be a common disruption in United’s transfer plans for a multitude of reasons, I assume.
Firstly, the inflation in the market, which doesn’t only affect Manchester United but all Premier League sides, is a result of the ever growing commercialising of the nation’s top flight, made apparent by the most recent TV rights deal.
And what’s worse? According to the annual Forbes lists, Manchester United are the richest club in the world. So any selling club would be stupid not to raise their asking prices when they come calling.
While it could be argued that refusal to meet such valuations is key to the prevention of further inflation, the actions of United alone would be of negligible effect to efforts with Chelsea reportedly set to spend up to £100 million on Romelu Lukaku, for example.
And as the club with the sport’s greatest financial horsepower, why is Ed Woodward so reluctant to spend big? Should it not just be merely accepted as an advancing norm in modern football?
Moreover, the availability of such a specific breed of player suited to Mourinho’s methods and style of play, of a high enough standard to launch the club out of a far from solemn lurch and capable of coping with the social demands of playing for Manchester United may be reducing an already narrow breadth options.
Aside from Griezmann, and maybe even Ronaldo, none of the ‘world’s best’ appear to be available, being either reluctant to leave for their respective sides for the challenge of the Premier League, or of an age where resale value, a key factor in the majority of transfers worldwide, would be close to nothing. Not that United should care, surely?
But with this limiting the options available to Mourinho, a knowledge from selling clubs of their possible desperation for specific players, coupled with their obviously acknowledged depth of funds ready to be signed off by Woodward, have Manchester United simply been unlucky so far this summer? Or does Ed deserve the hairdryer treatment when he arrives in the States?
Main image credit: