Manchester United are unlikely to make any major signings in the January transfer window, having suffered a further delay over Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment into the club and amid claims their priorities are to find new homes for two stars Erik ten Hag desperately wants gone.
The Red Devils were first put up for sale over a year with the Glazers finally accepting they needed to either cash in or bring in additional investment at Old Trafford. Following a long takeover saga, it was ultimately decided that a 25% purchase of Manchester United, made by British billionare Ratcliffe, was the path they were going to go down.
Despite weeks passing since Ratcliffe’s £1.4bn purchase into the club was agreed, the official stock exchange green light over his stake into United is still awaiting ratification.
Initially slotted for the first week in November, a further delay in compiling the legal documentation meant any announcement was delayed until after America’s Thanksgiving celebrations.
But with the United States returning to work as normal, there is still no clarity from across the pond as to when an announcement will actually go through.
It all spells bad news for Ratcliffe, who, while already getting to work at United in an unofficial capacity, has been prevented from pushing through his plans for the January window.
Part of his reshuffling will see director of football John Murtough moved into a new role, with Ratcliffe overseeing a new department headed up by an, as yet-unconfirmed, new sporting director.
Favourite for the role is the Stalybridge-born Paul Mitchell, currently occuping the same role with Ligue 1 giants Monaco.
Major Man Utd transfer business likely in summer
Under any reshuffle, Murtough is likely to be kept on, albeit moving into a new role.
While plans are in place to insert Mitchell into the sporting director position, the delay in confirming Ratcliffe means negotiations with Monaco to release Mitchell are also held up.
And with Ratcliffe wanting Mitchell to have a full say on transfer incomings at the club, it’ll likely mean their January plans to make new signings are also impacted as a result.
That will all come as an almighty blow to Ten Hag, who has endured a hugely-frustrating and inconsistent campaign so far.
Issues around the takeover are likely to have filtered down through the club and impacted results, which have been patchy to say the least.
And while there has been something of a November upturn in fortunes, nothing less than a win in Wednesday’s Champions League match at Galatasaray will do, with a draw or defeat severely dampening any new-found optimism.
In the meantime, Ten Hag would like further funds put in place to help strengthen a squad that still has areas of obvious weakness.
However, it’s claimed that any major incomings now look unlikely and have a stronger chance of going through in the summer window than in the winter market.
Ratcliffe January focus is on selling unwanted Man Utd players
Instead, it’s now reported United will put their focus into offloading some of the deadwood, who now longer figure in Ten Hag’s plans.
To that end, there are a number of players in and around the club whom Ten Hag wishes to move on.
The pair cost United a combined £113m, but have not had the desired impact with Sancho, for one, falling out very publicly with his manager.
To that end, reports on Monday claimed Sancho had rejected the chance to sign for a major European club with his preferred destination revealed.
Regardless of where the pair will end up, United’s focus in January will be on moving the duo on.
And as journalist Dean Jones announced, the delay in announcing Ratcliffe’s investment will put the brakes on their January plans.
“There has been so much anticipation around Ratcliffe’s partial takeover that it really feels like a blow for United fans, I’m sure, to hear that INEOS’ arrival has been delayed,” he told Givemesport.
“That’s understandable because it will mean it is now unlikely United make much of an impact in January, but I think it’s also important to realise that there is no deep problem here and that people close to those involved insist everything remains on track.
“I think we’ll have to accept there will not be major signings in the new year, but what we will see is that the club start trying to move out the deadwood. Two things that are very important are finding new clubs for Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho.”
Sancho is reportedly up for grabs at £35m, though United will accept a loan deal as long as it contains an obligation to buy.
Van de Beek, meanwhile, is reportedly available for just €10m (around £8.7m), leaving the club to face two significant losses.