Manchester United should sell to buy in the summer even if they find new owners

Harry Maguire and Erik ten Hag - Manchester United should sell for the summer even if they find new owners - Getty Images/Ash Donelon

Harry Maguire and Erik ten Hag – Manchester United should sell for the summer even if they find new owners – Getty Images/Ash Donelon

If Erik ten Hag is to sign any midfielder and forward this summer, even if the Glazers sell the club, Manchester United will still need to qualify for the Champions League and raise substantial money from player sales.

The United manager is looking to sign a top forward on the club’s radar like Harry Kane, Benjamin Sesko and Victor Osimhen, and another prominent midfielder like Frenkie de Jong or Jude Bellingham.

But telegraph sport He understands that unless revenues increase significantly with the return of Champions League football and player sales that seem more important than ever, the change of ownership will make little difference to Ten Hag’s summer transfer cat. Given the impact of Uefa’s new Financial Sustainability rules and the £307m the club still owes in transfer fee installments, he may have to choose between a noble forward or a midfielder.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in November has left Ten Hag desperate to support their attack, but the manager has announced that this month’s low-cost, no-obligations for Dutch forward Wout Weghorst, as finances are tight after the club drastically exceeded its budget last summer. He had to take out a loan. with £200m plus extravagance for six new signings.

A second consecutive season outside the Champions League would result in a 30 per cent cut (equivalent to £22.5m) on their £75m annual deal with jersey supplier Adidas, but such a hit would be spread over the remaining two. years of the agreement.

United would have given a huge boost to their prospects for an unexpected championship fee this season, beating Manchester City in the derby on Saturday and Premier League leaders Arsenal the following week. But Uefa’s new Financial Sustainability rules – coupled with the cash United already owes from transfers – have significantly increased the pressure on Ten Hag, ensuring their side enter the top four and players like Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan take decisive action on their futures. – Bissaka, Fred and Donny van Beek can all leave to save cash to spend elsewhere. Ten Hag also wants another right-back.

Under new squad cost controls introduced by Uefa last June, clubs will be limited to spending 70 percent of their total revenues on transfers, player and coach salaries, and manager wages until 2025/26. While the figure for this season is 100 percent to allow for an adjustment period before dropping to 90 percent next season and 80 percent in 2024/25, football’s European governing body wants to limit wage and transfer inflation.

As part of cost metrics, revenues are classified as operating income plus profits from player sales, while Uefa uses player depreciation, an accounting term that involves spreading transfer fees over the duration of a player’s contract, to calculate how much a club is spending.

United are projecting revenues between £590m and £610m for this season, from £583m for 2021/22 and this figure will rise significantly next year if they return to the Champions League.

But without Champions League football, it will be an even greater burden for United to sell well this summer – something they have been accustomed to doing in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era – with Uefa cost pressures and to allow Ten Hag to strengthen their squad. pressure on cash flow of money owed in transfers. According to the latest calculations, this figure amounted to £ 307 million.

Otherwise, Ten Hag will likely have to prioritize a striker over a midfielder like De Jong, whom he tried to sign from Barcelona last summer but failed to do and still wants to bring to Old Trafford.

If United had sold captain Maguire for half the £80m it paid Leicester in 2019, midfielder Fred for around £30m and right-back Wan-Bissaka for around £20m, it would have made a profit of around £50m on the player. would. sales when calculated based on current book values. For example, Maguire has two years to finish his six-year contract – the equivalent of £26.67m in residual book value, ie a sale of £40m, a profit of £13.33m.

As of last season, United’s spending on transfers, wages and manager fees is estimated to account for more than 80 percent of turnover plus profits from player sales. Revenues were £583.2m and profit from player sales was £21.9m – a total of £605.1m – but player depreciation was £151.5m and manager fees £29m. Players and coaches’ salaries are estimated to account for around 80 percent of the £384.2m salary bill, which includes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick’s departure compensation.

This is expected to decline as revenues are predicted to be marginally higher this season – and due to lower payroll due to Ronaldo’s mid-season departure and lower player salaries due to the absence of Champions League football.

But another year away from Europe’s leading club competition and another weak sales window could seriously impact Ten Hag’s plans to greatly strengthen their roster this summer in light of Uefa’s tightening rates from next season. United’s revenues have increased 61 percent since Ferguson retired in 2013, but the 113 percent increase in wage costs and 263 percent transfer fee depreciation over the same period dwarfed that figure.

However, Premier League rivals like Arsenal and Chelsea, who also spend heavily but have less revenue streams than United, may find they have even tighter gaps with the new Uefa rules. United has also tended to operate with a healthier pay-to-turnover ratio than many of its leading domestic and European competitors.

Supporting the regulations and recognizing the importance of financial fair play, which will have European-wide effects, United also believes it is an advantage to have a positive equity in the club’s balance sheets, unlike many of its leading rivals. It will allow “allowed” loss under UEFA regulations.

Weghorst is expected to join on loan before United focus their efforts to sign a permanent replacement for Ronaldo in the summer with names like Tottenham’s Kane, Napoli’s Osimhen and RB Salzburg’s Sesko who will join RB Leipzig to replace Ronaldo. among those watched at the end of the season.

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