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Are Manchester United the biggest losers of the summer transfer window?

After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United secured their Champions League berth by beating Leicester City 2-0 on the final day of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign, the Norwegian gaffer recorded:

“Now we have to go for every game. That’s another stepping stone. You have to go and get fitter and stronger and more robust. That’s another part of the Champions League – the financial gain – but that’s not in my head. The club, they know what I feel we need and we’re going to try and pursue it.”

Now, if we try to focus on the last line of the given quote, we would find that the Manchester United manager might have expected the board to back him up with new signings going into the summer transfer window.

And if we believe in the story published by The Athletic, the victory against Leicester and the ultimate capture of the Champions League spot was the certain point when the club felt that they would now have to go and sign Solskjaer’s no.1 summer target, apparently Jadon Sancho

With more than 24 hours gone following the culmination of the transfer deadline day, here we are witnessing stuff and reading stories on why Manchester United eventually failed in their pursuit of the Borussia Dortmund superstar.

Let’s not make this piece an illustration of agony and frustration but a review of how and when certain things happened and how Manchester unravelled their transfer activities during this summer transfer window. 

On August 06, 2020:

Manchester United zealots all over the globe saw the first glimpse of movement regarding the transfer activities from the Red Devils’ end on that very day. 

Once thought to be a burden upon the shoulders of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Alexis Sanchez was on his way out of the red side of Manchester. 

Inter Milan officially announced his arrival, signing the Chilean on a three-year deal this time.

Not only did Sanchez’s departure confirm that United could now take a deep sigh of relief as they were free from the duty of paying the 31-year-old his humongous £560k-per-week salary, but also it meant United could get their illustrious no.7 shirt back from the grasp of a so-called ‘flop’. 

In conclusion, it was a fair business for both parties.

And the mood within the Red Devils’ fan base was certainly lifted up following the official announcement of the deal as it showcased prosperity and ambition from those in Reds. 

On September 02, 2020:

On this day, United made their first senior acquisition in Donny van de Beek.

Ajax sold him for an initial transfer fee of £35m plus £5m in performance-based add-ons, with the Dutchman penning down a five-year contract with the Mancunian club.

It was one of the best signings any English club has had made over the summer transfer window, if not the best. 

Van de Beek, 23, had made 175 senior appearances for Ajax, possessing an ambulance of experience of playing in the Champions League with the Dutch side.

He could be a class act should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer utilise his on-field features in a proper way. 

 On October 05, 2020 [The transfer deadline day]:

After over one month of silence, that hectic day came when Manchester United authorities, having seen no option, got forced to press the panic button and announce the five confirmed deals on the trot (four arrivals and one departure). 


After weeks and weeks of negotiations and talks regarding the actual valuation of the deal, United finally confirmed that Chris Smalling would join AS Roma on a three-year contract.

The reported valuation that Manchester United had agreed to sell their veteran centre-back was €15m (£13.6m) which would rise up to €20m (£18.1m) with add-ons. 

Smalling, now 30, has had enjoyed 323 games for Manchester United, winning the Premeir League twice in his long-lived ten years at Old Trafford. 

Dubbed as the surplus to Solskjaer’s requirements, Smalling would get way more and the much-needed game time in Italy. 

 Arrival (s):

The signings of Alex Telles, Edison Cavani, Amad Diallo, and Facundo Pellistri were made officially on the late hours of the deadline day. 

Telles, who is believed to replace Luke Shaw and be a first-team signing, joined United from Porto for a reported transfer fee of £15.4m.

On the other hand, Edinson Cavani, who would wear the no.7 shirt previously worn by Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and most recently Alexis Sanchez, signed a two-year deal that would see him earn a reported salary of €9 million-per-year. 

The acquisitions of two 18-year-old wingers in Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri were the ones that raised a few eyebrows at the end of the day. 

While United brought the former from Atalanta for £37m, the latter joined the Red Devils from Club Atlético Peñarol for an amount of £9m, which was actually his release clause. 

Both are teenagers and don’t possess any sort of experience in playing in the Premier League. Hence, we can firmly agree on the point that they are the singings for the future of the club.

In conclusion:  

Over the summer transfer window, United signed five and offloaded two players in total, having spent €83.50m on arrivals and pocketed €15.00m through sales.

Their net spend remained in the region of €68.50m / £62m (as per the data provided by Transfermarkt), excluding the loan deals as they don’t deal with transfer fee or extra wages in this case.

Before the summer market began, it was widely proclaimed that United had their priorities in the following positions: a centre-back (more obviously a left-footed), a centre-mid, and a right-winger.

Other than a midfielder in Donny van de Beek, the board failed yet again to deliver their manager with his priorities. 

Instead, they went on and signed two youngsters who are talented, of course, but also hold a massive cloud of uncertainty over their head. 

While other Premier League clubs like Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Wolves, Everton and even Aston Villa signed those required to hand them obvious success, United seemingly put strength on the bench but overlooked the need of fulfilling the voids in the starting eleven. 

While summing up United’s activities in the summer transfer window, The Telegraph writer, James Duncker, used an eye-catching phrase to complete his piece — “What a mess.”