Even by United standards, this is a ‘crazy’ transfer window. There’s no Ed Woodward jetting back home from the pre-season tour to talk to Sergio Ramos’ agent, but all the usual trappings of a United transfer window are turned up to 11.
Linked with every player? Check. Deals being hijacked? Check. Bidding wars? Check. Rival clubs trying to poach players through agents? Check.
Man Utd have not signed anyone yet this summer, but with multiple deals for transfer targets at varying stages in the pipeline, let’s look at how close each player is to joining United – whether it’s in time for the pre-season tour or even the start of the season (just over a month away).
Frenkie de Jong – Barcelona
Terms between the two clubs are still not finalised. Barcelona reportedly want more guaranteed money upfront, while United want to structure it through add-ons. The overall value of the deal (80m Euros) seems to be there.
However, unlike with some of the other deals below, United have not finalised personal terms with de Jong (although they are in continuous contact with his agent, hence the Tyrell Malacia deal), nor is de Jong pushing for the transfer.
It may take another week or so for the two clubs to agree to terms, and then possibly another week for United to get de Jong on board. United’s other signings in the meantime might be helpful in convincing de Jong of the project.
There’s the Chelsea factor as well, but it is a red herring. Chelsea will look at the transfer fee United and Barcelona agree to and might consider matching it if they feel Jorginho and Kante cannot be trusted to continue for another year.
However, Chelsea need defenders (and they don’t come cheap). Chelsea are also after at least two attacking players in Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) and Raphinha (Leeds United). These three could very well cost Chelsea £150m. Adding another £60m on top for a central midfielder is possible, but will leave them requiring player sales.
Chelsea have a history of snaring away United’s transfer targets (Michael Essien and Michael Ballack come to mind) but the current United board seems willing to match Chelsea financially, and de Jong is a priority, not a luxury signing like he would be for Chelsea.
The longer the de Jong saga lasts, the more worrying it gets for United fans, but so far he seems United-bound. Barcelona can’t keep him because of his salary demands, plain and simple.
Expected Transfer: End-July.
Tyrell Malacia – Feyenoord
Terms with Feyenoord were agreed upon earlier this week, and terms with the player and his agent were agreed upon on Friday afternoon. The deal is done, he should be unveiled next week.
Also Read: Man Utd agree personal terms with Tyrell Malacia.
Expected Transfer: Before 8th July.
Lisandro Martinez – Ajax
Second-choice defensive target? Not really. United (quite publicly) went after Jurrien Timber as he’s a younger player and one who could be developed into a world-class talent at Old Trafford. However, Martinez was not only the player of the year for Ajax in 2022, he’s also the finished article who can slot into the United defence immediately.
Martinez is will get more game time at United in his first season than Timber would have, and his national team spot would not be at risk (no Louis van Gaal to warn him off). He also seems interested in playing for Ten Hag.
Arsenal are interested and were there first, but Arsenal have already spent a bit this summer and are looking to budget their acquisitions differently. United can, with more money upfront, get this deal over the line.
Ajax will want a bidding war, so this may take a couple of extra weeks, but if the player is open to joining United and it comes down to which club is willing to spend more money, it’s going to be a United win.
Expected Transfer: Mid-July.
Christian Eriksen – Free Agent
Eriksen has gone from being an after-thought to being slowly realised as a deal United have been quietly working on since the start of June.
The player has been told by Tottenham that he is not a priority for them, and has received offers from Brentford and Man Utd. He is still waiting to decide, which most likely means that he is waiting for a Champions League club to come fetch him.
The only scenario that would happen is if a club, due to failing to sign their transfer targets or due to a catastrophic injury in pre-season, decides to dip into the free transfer market.
If that is what Eriksen is waiting for, it could be till August before he decides. United are likely to have a backup option in mind, which is where a certain Youri Tielemans comes in, and this deal hinges entirely on how long Eriksen takes.
Expected Transfer: Before the end of July, or not at all.
Antony – Ajax
Speculation around Antony has cooled in the last week in the wake of the Malacia deal and United-Ajax dealings narrowing down to discussions around Martinez.
Of all the Ajax players discussed, Antony seems to be the one pushing the hardest for a move, and he has also been priced the highest at around 80m Euros.
United may return to this after the Martinez deal is concluded (whether he joins United or Arsenal), and it is quite likely that over the next week you will hear United linked to another attacker.
As things stand and given United’s priorities elsewhere, a deal for Antony is unlikely to be done in July, and certainly doesn’t look like it will be done before the de Jong and Martinez deals are concluded.
If there are serious links with another attacker next week, United may just have decided to move on to a cheaper option. Or, the club will wait and see what funds they can raise, although right now it looks like they are only able to get players out on loan.
Expected Transfer: August, if at all.
Youri Tielemans – Leicester City
Reportedly available at £25 million and also targeted by Arsenal. Champions League football is going to be a major factor, but United are also playing a waiting game here to see what the player wants and whether there’s a serious bid by Arsenal that they can match/beat.
Tielemans will improve the United midfield but he’s not a priority. Having said that, this is another deal that could hinge on the de Jong transfer, so unless United’s hand is forced by Arsenal making a quick move for the player or the player explicitly declaring he wants to sign for United, this one will run for a while.
If United sign de Jong and Eriksen, it’s highly unlikely they go for Tielemans as well.
Expected Transfer: Unlikely, but if it goes through, most likely August.
Note: The list above is by no means complete, but is restricted to players that United have made contact with or actively worked on signing, and where the chances of signing are better than none.
So while United continue to be linked with Marco Asensio, Sergio Romero, Matthis de Ligt and several others, so far United have not actively moved towards signing these players or sounding out the clubs/agents to gauge the player’s interest.
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