Sunday 17 December 2017

Ed Woodward outlines plans to strengthen Manchester United squad in the summer

Ed Woodward, centre, has pledged to back Jose Mourinho in the summer
Ed Woodward, centre, has pledged to back Jose Mourinho in the summer

Samuel Lovett

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has revealed that plans are in place to reinforce Jose Mourinho’s squad this summer as the club seeks to reclaim its position at the pinnacle of English football.

The 20-time Premier League champions added Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba to their ranks last summer, for a collective total of £145.3m, and it’s expected United will seek to be just as active once the transfer window reopens in July.

As revealed by The Independent, United are increasing confident of singing Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann in the summer, with behind-the-scenes discussions taking place, while reports have linked Monaco midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko and Benfica's Victor Lindelof to Old Trafford.

After offloading Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay to Everton and Lyon respectively last month, Woodward admitted that the club will attempt to ‘improve’ the squad this summer – but insisted there will not be the “churn” of recent years.

"Are we happy with the roster? There is happiness from the manager in terms of where we are as a squad," Woodward said. "There will be continual improvement, but we don't have to churn a large number of players.

"Even if we won everything, you would always want to improve because that is the dynamic nature of the sport we are in.

“We want to get to a more steady state of potentially buying and selling a lower number of players each year.

"I think we're in that kind of environment now compared to where we were two or three years ago, where perhaps a little bit more churn was required from a playing squad perspective.

"We don't guide around players' spend, it's a number you can track all over the summer on a deal-by-deal basis because things are widely published when they happen."

Woodward, meanwhile, said he expects United to retain their position as the world leader in shirt sales. Using the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in June 2009 as an example, the vice-chairman highlighted the club’s pulling power, with or without a stellar name such as the former United player.

"When we sold Cristiano, we did not see a material impact on the number of shirt sales," Woodward added. "A supporter will still buy a United shirt and then choose which name to have on the back of it."

Independent News Service

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