Monday 25 September 2017

Jose Mourinho frustrated by delay in signing top targets

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Sam Wallace

Jose Mourinho is growing increasingly frustrated at the prospect of embarking on Manchester United's pre-season tour of the United States on Sunday with so few of the new players he proposed in April having yet been signed.

The manager presented the club with a list of 12 players - three options for each of the four positions he feels need strengthening - but so far only centre-back Victor Lindelof, a £31m purchase from Benfica, has arrived.

Mourinho was determined that additions, ideally also in attack, central midfield and one wide player, would have arrived in time for Sunday's flight to Los Angeles. He is putting pressure on all concerned, including Ed Woodward, the club's vice-chairman.

For their part, United feel that all efforts are being made to secure the players Mourinho wants and that the time taken to complete deals is symptomatic of the modern market, where leading English clubs are quoted huge prices.

There has been some disquiet from Mourinho at Woodward's visit to New Zealand to watch the British and Irish Lions' second Test in Wellington, where he was photographed with supporters who circulated the picture on social media.

It is understood that Woodward was overseas for just two days and in constant contact with the club during that time.

Although there is no question that Woodward is in overall charge of United's transfers, much of the preliminary business in negotiating fees and contracts is done by Matt Judge, the head of corporate development, and a trusted aide of the vice-chairman. The list of United targets is long indeed, although the club have indicated that there was never any prospect of a return for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Instead it is Alvaro Morata whom they hope to sign first, the Real Madrid striker having met with his Bernabeu bosses on Monday to try to push through a deal of more than £75m.

Mourinho's frustration is that he will go into pre-season with a squad that he does not believe is significantly stronger than the one which he approached in his first pre-season at the club.

He has lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young are still recovering from long-term injuries.

Last season Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly were all signed in time for pre-season.

This time United have run into high valuations for every player they have tried to sign, including Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic and Eric Dier of Tottenham Hotspur.

Wayne Rooney is due to report for the flight to Los Angeles, with the captain in no rush to leave Old Trafford.

The summer tour of five games in 17 days sees the club face opposition including Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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