Robin van Persie has cited the signings of Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba as proof that buying the big names in the game doesn’t always work for Manchester United – and says the Red Devils must mimic the transfer policy employed by Liverpool to return to the summit.
United have lavished vast sums in the transfer market since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, with David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho all afforded millions of pounds, only to ultimately see their reigns end, ultimately, in failure.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also been allowed to spend freely, bringing in five players so far with Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire all costing significant fees.
In fact, United have shelled out at least £40million on eight players in the last six years – with the likes of Pogba, Angel Di Maria and Romelu Lukaku – all arriving in costly deals.
Sanchez, meanwhile, arrived on a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and while United didn’t have to spend money on transfer fees to bring him to the club, the £500,000 a week wages he enjoys means he too can be classed as an expensive failure.
In the same period, Liverpool have beaten the £40m mark on just three occasions – with Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Naby Keita – all bettering that mark, though a large portion of that was offset by the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142million.
Much of Liverpool’s transfer success can be credited to the system and trust Liverpool have placed in sporting director Michael Edwards, with the Reds spending lots of time researching their potential targets before committing to trying to sign them.
An example recent example of this can be seen in this report into their interest in Leeds loan star Ben White, which states that, while they are keen on the defender, their spies do have one major doubt over his physique.
By contrast, Van Persie suggests United simply apply a scattergun approach to transfers and tend to just identify big-name players who they think would impress, rather than apply the same detail to their signings that Liverpool do.
And now Van Persie says United can learn plenty from their rivals.
“If you compare it to Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp was appointed and players were selected who fit in with the football philosophy, not from marketing motives,” Van Persie told SoFoot.
“They built the club on a coach’s sporting project.
“At Manchester United, they gamble on star names like Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez.
“That’s one way. It is risky. If such a player gets injured or does not fit, the whole team is vulnerable.
“While having a philosophy like Liverpool and not Manchester United creates enormous collective power.
“The challenge for Manchester United is to see if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can successfully establish a philosophy of his own.”
Another example of this is Harry Kane, with United linked with a £200m swoop for his services this summer. However, a report in the MEN claims Tottenham’s stance on the prospective transfer has been made abundantly clear.