Saturday 14 December 2019

Manchester United vow to buy 'a Luis Suarez a year' under new aggressive transfer policy

Manchester United broke the British transfer record to sign Angel di Maria and can spend again in January
Manchester United broke the British transfer record to sign Angel di Maria and can spend again in January

Jason Burt

There is a phrase that has been used to describe Manchester United’s apparent financial muscle in the world transfer market that has appealed to the club’s hierarchy. When United signed their hugely lucrative new kit deal with Adidas in July it was said to have given them the potential to sign “a Suárez every year”.

United will not be signing Barcelona’s former Liverpool striker of course – although stranger things have happened – but given it took £75 million to take the Uruguayan to the Catalan club, £15 million more than United paid to acquire Ángel di María from Real Madrid in a British record deal, then the inference is clear.

United believe they can make a world-class marquee signing every year for the next decade. And if not Suárez next summer then what are the chances of a move to bring back, for example, Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford? He will, as things stand, have just one more year left on his Real Madrid contract by then.

The Adidas deal to supply their kit from next season is worth £750 million – although that would be reduced should the club fail to qualify for the Champions League for two successive seasons. Nevertheless, it represents a significant markup from the Nike deal it replaces. And other deals are in the pipeline.

It was Kevin Roberts, founder of SportsBusiness International, a specialist magazine, who used the Suárez phrase as he was asked on Sky News about his thoughts on the Adidas deal and United are remarkably bullish about their spending.

 Senior sources have already briefed that more money will be committed when the January transfer window opens, with talks understood to have taken place to bring in the Roma and Holland midfielder Kevin Strootman for around £25  million during that time once he has recovered from a cruciate ligament injury.

United understand that more than £150 million spent this summer – by far the biggest outlay in the club’s history – is a massive financial commitment.

However, they insist it is not just something they can afford but something they can afford comfortably, especially as they argue they have reduced the size of their squad at the same time. That overhaul will also continue with high-earners such as Ashley Young, said to be on £115,000 a week, targeted.

United also claim that although they want to be in the Champions League next season they can financially take the hit of not being in the competition – for one more year presumably – even though an improved deal kicks in with the new campaign.

They had promised they could spend up to £200 million this summer, and came close to doing that. Maybe it was not as planned as they had promised – and the argument that Louis van Gaal, the manager, wanted time to assess his squad does not ring true – but it was bold. As is the claim that there is more to follow.

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