Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ratcliffe to waste £130m as Man Utd tipped for another embarrassing Premier League finish

Man Utd part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Man Utd could be set for another disappointing season

Manchester United and INEOS chief Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been warned that even three impressive signings will not help the club’s fortunes, as a former Premier League striker has backed them to finish well outside the top four in the 2024-25 season.

Man Utd are hoping to bolster the centre-forward, central midfield and centre-back positions. The first new player who could walk through the door is striker Joshua Zirkzee.

Earlier on Friday, the Red Devils ‘agreed’ personal terms with Zirkzee ahead of opening official talks with Bologna about his transfer fee. Ratcliffe simply needs to activate the Dutchman’s £34million release clause to sign him, though the swoop may end up costing a total of £46m through agent fees and other costs.

Zirkzee might be followed to Man Utd by fellow Netherlands star Matthijs de Ligt. Man Utd are in discussions with Bayern Munich as they try to replace Raphael Varane with De Ligt.

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Valuations of the centre-half vary, with Man Utd looking to sign him for the cut-price fee of £34m but Bayern holding out for £40-50m.

Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain have been tipped to hijack the De Ligt deal, though the 24-year-old has firmly set his sights on reuniting with ex-Ajax boss Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford.

In order to replace ageing midfielder Casemiro, Man Utd are keen on signing Manuel Ugarte from PSG. Like De Ligt, he could cost £50m, potentially taking Ratcliffe’s summer expenditure above the £150m mark.

But former Aston Villa ace Gabby Agbonlahor thinks Man Utd fans are in for another disappointing campaign, despite the top players who might join their ranks.

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“I think they [Man Utd] will do better, of course, but will they get into the top four? I don’t think they will,” he said during a recent radio appearance.

“I think there’s so much competition now. I don’t think Aston Villa will too [make the top four].

“Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle are going to get better, as will Chelsea and Spurs. I don’t see Manchester United breaking into the top four.”

Agbonlahor continued: “I see Man City winning it again and Arsenal as their closest challengers. If Liverpool hit it off with their new manager they will be in third place and I think Chelsea will really improve and they’ll be in fourth.”

On Man Utd specifically, the pundit said: “Seventh or maybe eighth again. They’ve given Ten Hag an extra year after looking at every other manager possible.

“From watching Manchester United last season, I didn’t see anything in their performances warranting Ten Hag getting a new deal.

“If other managers were available and they wanted to come to Manchester United, they [the club] would have changed him this summer.”

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