Sir Jim Ratcliffe is pushing ahead with plans to seriously strengthen the Manchester United squad in January and could reportedly make up to four high-profile signings – but concerns are growing that Sofyan Amrabat will be sent on his way.
The Red Devils are still awaiting official confirmation that Ratcliffe’s £1.4bn investment into Manchester United has gone through in a deal that will give the British billionare a 25 per cent stake in the famous old club. As part of the arranagement, the 71-year-old will assume a lead role in the club’s transfer business, which for too long now, has been far too inconsistent.
Indeed, it’s reported that Ratcliffe has been hugely critical of several of the club’s high-profile signings in recent years and amid concerns he feels the club have wasted millions signing players whom they won’t see much of a return on their investment. The £70m paid for Casemiro in summer 2022 is often cited as the primary example.
As part of Ratcliffe’s plans, he intends to appoint a new sporting director – likely to be Paul Mitchell, currently of Monaco – to oversee the club’s transfer business. Current incumbent, John Murtough, who operates under the title of football director, will be moved into a new position.
With the January window fast approaching, concerns have been raised that Ratcliffe’s investment into United will not be ratified in time to give them a fair crack at the January window.
However, according to The Guardian, Ratcliffe and Co are pressing ahead with plans to strengthen their squad in the January window – with up to four new signings potentially arriving at Old Trafford.
Man Utd concerns over Sofyan Amrabat
Per the report, those ambitious plans are likely to focus very much around the capture of a new defensive midfielder.
The aforementioned Casemiro appears to be edging closer to the United exit door, with a report on Tuesday revealing the Brazilian has now made up his mind over a potential exit at Old Trafford.
However, the man signed in the summer and seen as his likely midfield partner, Amrabat, has proved hugely underwhelming, per The Guardian.
The Moroccan signed on a season’s loan from Fiorentina with a view to a permanent move after something of a protracted chase.
However, the report claims United chiefs are already concerned that Amrabat is not up to the required standards with doubts being raised internally over his performances.
The 27-year-old has been limited to just seven starts in all competitions, with some in the unfamilar role of left-back. And it seems the excellent display of 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo at Everton on Sunday, with the teenager selected ahead of the World Cup semi-finalist, has convinced United officials to not take up that permanent option on the La Viola man.
Ratcliffe wants four new signings at Man Utd
As well as a new defensive midfielder, the report claims Ratcliffe has given Ten Hag the green light to make three other signings in January, or failing that – and if they find clubs are not willing to sell them their top targets – in summer 2024.
To that end, the report states Ten Hag also wants to bring in a new right-sided centre-half, with Raphael Varane now looking likely to leave.
The World Cup winner has slipped down the order in recent weeks and has also found himself benched behind the likes of veteran defender Jonny Evans.
United are also looking to sign a new No 8, potentially as a long-term successor to Scott McTominay, whom Ten Hag has never fully been convinced over, as well as a new striker.
As far as a new striker goes, United are open to the possibility of bringing in an option on loan, especially with Anthony Martial up for sale and with the Frenchman’s deal expiring at the end of the season.
His exit will see United having to rely even more heavily on Rasmus Hojlund, who has five goals in four Champions League games, but is yet to break his duck in nine Premier League outings.
A new striker, however, could prove seriously pricey of course, especially those expected to have an impact at Man Utd, meaning the club could be forced into the loan market.
To that end, a report on Tuesday morning suggested the Red Devils were planning an approach to RB Leipzig following claims that former Chelsea man Timo Werner has been made available for a temporary switch.