Manchester United have 22 days left in this transfer window to strengthen their squad.
Everyone at the club, from manager Erik ten Hag to Director of Football John Murtough to CEO Richard Arnold, have all confirmed that a new striker is needed to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, who left the club in December.
However, reports also claim that the club’s bank balance now stands at just £30 million, with most credit lines exhausted. The club is up for sale, basically, because the current owners, the Glazer family, have run out of credit and have nowhere to go but the exit door.
With that in mind, it is said that the club cannot make money available for transfers in this window and that only loan deals will be considered. There is no reason to doubt this, although there are some permanent deals that come in cheaper than some loan deals, so in that sense, there is surely some flexibility.
Take the case of Marcus Thuram of Borussia Monchengladbach. His contract expires in six months and it is reported that he wants to leave the club. So in all likelihood, Gladbach would negotiate at a very low figure (€10m or less) rather than lose him for free. The same is true of Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko and Barcelona’s Memphis Depay.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed by a number of tier one journalists (eg David Ornstein, Fabrizio Romano, James Ducker) that United are trying to negotiate a loan deal with Burnley for 30-year-old Dutch striker Wout Weghorst. The deal is complicated by the fact the player is currently on loan at Besiktas, with no recall option. The Turkish club are reported to be seeking compensation because they had an option to buy of €10m. This could increase the cost of this loan to something not too far from the €10 million it would take to land any of the three “expiring contract” stars on a permanent deal.
The other star linked with a loan move to United is Atletico Madrid’s João Felix. It has been reported that Atleti want €15m in loan fees but that United have offered €4m. In all likelihood, if a deal is agreed, it is likely to be not far short of €10m.
It should be remembered that the Red Devils also paid a similar amount for a six month loan of Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhua in 2020.
It seems hard to understand, even given the difficult financial position, why the club is choosing to spend around as much on the loan of a stopgap, arguably average, 30-year-old striker than it would need to purchase one of the world’s most coveted young talents in Moukoko or Thuram.
It makes no sense unless they are unfancied by United for some reason or they are not interested in joining, which seems unlikely, especially in the case of Thuram, who has more or less issued a come-and-get-me plea.
The Weghorst deal looks close to being finalised. It is possible, of course, that United intend to pursue Felix as well. Fans would probably be very satisfied if both loans were to be brought in this month. Some unsubstantiated reports are also beginning to emerge saying that it will, indeed, be a permanent move rather than a loan.
Besiktas are set to make €4-5m from Wout Weghorst’s move to #mufc – which represents 35% of the fee. Weghorst’s move would be a sale, not a loan, from Burnley to United. [@EfsaneFotospor via @Sport_Witness]
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) January 9, 2023
Even if it is a permanent move it does not, however, explain why more effort has not been made to snap up one of these incredible Bundesliga bargains instead. Surely they not only represent better value, but also are longer term solutions that will allow Ten Hag to build for the future.
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