The apparent wishes of Erik ten Hag to integrate Mason Greenwood back into the Manchester United ranks this season were swiftly abandoned over the resulting media storm that erupted.
The 21-year-old forward looks set to end his 20-month wait to play professional football again after the international break after signing for Getafe on loan. Indeed, his last outing came all the way back in January 2022 when Greenwood helped United to a 1-0 Premier League win over West Ham at Old Trafford.
Shortly after that match, Greenwood’s life would never be the same again after he was arrested and ultimately charged with attempted rape, controlling behaviour and assault.
The case, however, never made it to trial after the withdrawal of a key witness in February of this year. On paper, that left Greenwood free to resume his career, though United continued to keep him on gardening leave and requesting he stayed away from their Carrington training complex while they held their own investigation into his actions.
That results of that were eventually revealed in August, with United announcing it would be best if the Bradford-born star continues his career away from Old Trafford.
That decision arrived after it had previously been leaked to the media that United were hoping to welcome him back into the fold with Ten Hag holding a series of phone calls with the player to make clear his plan.
United, though, walked into a media storm on the back of that alleged plan. Led by our very own Football365, who claimed United would be degrading themselves by allowing Greenwood back, United in the end felt it best for the forward to move on.
Man Utd left with no choice over Mason Greenwood departure
And after links with several sides, including an upset Lazio, Greenwood was eventually allowed to sign for Getafe on a season’s loan.
However, his ties with United may not be over yet. His deal with the club is not due to expire in 2025 and there has been suggestions United could recall him in January, with Greenwood also refusing to give up on his ‘dream’ of playing again for United.
In the meantime, though, Greenwood simply had to move away from the Premier League giants to begin rebuilding his career.
Football financial expert Kieran Maguire, however, reckons United’s apparent plan to bring Greenwood back was quickly snuffed out.
“Manchester United have boxed themselves into a corner here,” he told United in Focus. “They couldn’t sack Mason Greenwood for gross misconduct because according to the internal investigation he had not been found guilty of the initial accusations made against him.
“This meant effectively there was no grounds for dismissal, the only way that a contract termination could have been feasible would be if United believed that the 21-year-old had brought the club into disrepute”.
Maguire added: “They had initially seemed quite keen on bringing him back into the squad, before the reaction to that story which then made their decision very difficult.”
Laying out United’s next steps over Greenwood, he added: “Therefore the alternatives were either paying off his contract, if they did that they would lose any potential moneys they could get for selling him next summer or for a loan for the 24/25 season.”
Getafe chief defends decision to sign Man Utd man
Prior to his arrest, Greenwood had a market value of £42.5m, and United simply could not let leave such a valuable asset, no matter how controversial the player now is.
“They might be hoping, that the attention that the issue has generated might have calmed down and they might then be able to still monetise his abilities and talents on the pitch,” Maguire concluded.
Getafe, meanwhile, have certainly been happy to take on Greenwood and the associated controversy, given their social media postings on his arrival.
Lauding his signing, it would not come as a surprise to see Greenwood handed an instant debut after the international break against Osasuna on Sunday September 17.
Their Getafe sporting director Ruben Reyes has, in the meantime, defended the decision to sign Greenwood, insisting the forward is ‘just like any other player’.
“We did what we do: sign players that are available to sign,” he said. “There is no need for us to handle anything [off the pitch]. We have signed a footballer who is just the same as Diego Rico and Óscar Rodríguez, and that’s it.
“We have to do our job, and that’s what we focus on. It is a year’s loan. It’s very difficult to get an option to buy on a player [like him]. He will be here all season. There are internal discussions [between the clubs] but those are small details that we try not to share.
“They [United] appreciated the effort, how convinced we were. We’re very excited with him. He was a player that we knew was out there. We worked on it, gathered information and bit by bit we saw that there could be a possibility.
Greenwood has also outlined his aims for the season.
“I am very happy to be here,” Greenwood said during his unveiling. “I have been training for four or five months, I am getting up to speed and have been training with my team-mates and feel quite good.
“We take it one game at a time and the next home game is coming in a few weeks and we will try to win and do our best.”