Around two weeks ago I wrote a Man Utd transfer predictions piece for this summer, looking at the players linked to the club and the most likely timelines for those players to move to Old Trafford.
This was right before Cristiano Ronaldo’s late realisation that the club isn’t playing in the Champions League next season, but so far that bombshell hasn’t resulted in any major changes in United’s transfer strategy.
So how have the predictions against the events of the last two weeks, and what can we expect between now and the end of July? Let’s find out.
Frenkie de Jong
To summarise the primary reason behind the delay: de Jong does not want to leave Barcelona, and he does not want to give up either the wages due to him nor his loyalty bonus that he is due to get in two years’ time.
The club, for all their posturing about not wanting to sell, have reached a full agreement with Man Utd. And after asking de Jong to take a pay cut / forego his outstanding salary, they’ve gone out and signed…wait for it…Andreas Christensen, Frank Kessie, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski, with Jules Kounde and Bernardo Silva also expected to join.
This is exceptional recruitment, but you can’t tell a player you can’t afford to pay them, and then go and sign five new players of which at least two (Lewandowski and Silva) will be on similar wages to de Jong. Factor in the 110m already spent (Raphinha and Lewandowski) and another 100m that they expect to spend (minus player trades) for Kounde and Silva, and the outstanding wages owed to de Jong seem trivial.
Barcelona want him to leave without having to pay him what they owe him. United are willing to give him wages above David De Gea (£375,000 / week) but not as much as Cristiano Ronaldo (£510,000 / week).
Latest reports suggest that Barcelona cannot register their new signings despite activating their second economic lever, which means player sales are now imperative. Frenkie’s agents will have advised him to wait until Barcelona are forced to pay him to leave – fair play to them.
Previous Prediction: End-July
Updated Prediction: 50% chance of this happening in July if Barcelona need money to finance the Bernardo Silva transfer, otherwise this can very well drag into August.
Good signing, concluded in time and with little fuss.
Previous Prediction: Before 8th July.
Actual Signing Date: 05 July 2022.
An impressive player and while United have paid a high transfer fee (£50m with add-ons) they have also brought in a ball-playing defender with pace and exceptional judgment. This will allow the club to play a higher defensive line, which in turn will help them break down teams that sit back and defend.
Martinez with a fully-fit (and on form) Eric Bailly will be terrifying for opposition. However, he is most likely to be paired with Raphael Varane or Harry Maguire, with Martinez given the specific role of being the deepest sitting player when the team is in possession.
Previous Prediction: Mid-July.
Actual Signing Date: 17 July 2022.
This was confirmed early in July but took additional time due to medicals and assorted tests that Eriksen had to go through before he was given the all-clear to sign.
Another good signing by United, and although the three-year contract is generous, it is also the primary thing that would have gotten the deal done this early.
Previous Prediction: Before the end of July, or not at all.
Actual Signing Date: 15 July 2022.
He looked to be a key transfer target June only for United to focus their attentions elsewhere once the board insisted on retaining Anthony Martial and Ajax’s asking price for Antony proved to be too high a hurdle.
The player has spoken about his desire to move and reportedly pushed his agents to get a deal done, but now looks likely to stay at Ajax unless there are major changes elsewhere.
As things stand, even Ronaldo leaving United would not result in the club moving for Antony, as the priority would then be a number nine, not a winger.
Previous Prediction: August, if at all.
Updated Prediction: Under 10% chance of Antony leaving Ajax this summer.
Youri Tielemans was on the list as a relatively cheaper backup option in case the Frenkie de Jong move did not materialise.
He is probably still on the shortlist along with Ruben Neves (who would be a better option albeit more expensive), but at this point de Jong is closer to a move (given Barcelona’s active spending in the transfer market) and so neither Tielemans nor Neves look to be a target for the club.
Previous Prediction: Unlikely but if it happens, in August.
Updated Prediction: Less than 10% chance of a transfer.
There are two factors in play that determine who United will sign: Cristiano Ronaldo’s possible departure, and Frenkie de Jong’s possible arrival.
United are looking to bring in a striker who can either play backup to Ronaldo or rotate with Martial in leading the line.
Antony doesn’t fit the profile, and United are unlikely to spend £50m+ to ‘replace’ Ronaldo this summer.
The most likely option given the budgetary constraints will be Stuttgart’s Sasa Kalajdzic, who could be available for £25m-£30m. However, this position is not a priority unless Ronaldo leaves.
With Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich turning down the chance to sign Ronaldo, and the ‘Saudi offer’ not an acceptable solution, it’s quite likely Ronaldo will be reintegrated and play out the season (and leave next summer on a free transfer).
Prediction: Not till August if at all.
A more likely point of reinforcement, but again a position where United would not look to spend more than £20m – £25m.
Man Utd have been linked with Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries, but with Inter asking for £35m, there’s going to be a £10m shortfall.
If United can sell players or get them out on loan without having to cover their salaries, and if Ronaldo stays, there’s a chance United can push this one through next month.
However, the focus after de Jong is going to be on offloading players.
Prediction: August, depends heavily on the timing of de Jong signing + offloading defenders
United need to sign a ball-winning midfielder although that is unlikely to happen this summer. United also need quality on the left flank but it seems that the club will rely on existing talent in that position (i.e. Marcus Rashford et al) with other positions a bigger problem for the manager. A goalkeeper signing would be an unnecessary luxury, so forget about it.
Axel Tuanzebe could be sold before the end of July, while Phil Jones is also likely to leave this summer. Eric Bailly was heavily tipped to leave this summer but given Varane’s injury record there’s a chance that he might stay another season.
United also need to sell Alex Telles while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the most likely right-back to get the chop if United go for Dumfries, although they will have trouble shifting both players.
Tuanzebe and Jones are the two most likely to be gone by July, but don’t be surprised if it’s only Tuanzebe and that too on loan. United don’t have players that other clubs want to sign, and that’s a shame for a club with the second-highest wage bill in the league.
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