Where, how and when did this summer transfer window go entirely off the rails for Manchester United? Now the club is scrambling with panic buys, going after the likes of Marko Arnautovic and Adrien Rabiot. How did this happen? It’s mostly the Cristiano Ronaldo and Frenkie de Jong situations, and the club’s failure to respond accordingly to what has gone wrong.
Ronaldo staged a bitter hold out, in his quest to play Champions League football this campaign, and he ended up missing the club’s entire preseason, and thus wasn’t available for the season opening loss to Brighton. United are now 1-6 in goal differential in their past two meetings with the Seagulls. Ronaldo is just one side of the equation, De Jong is the other.
Barcelona still want to keep him, but they also want him to significantly reduce his wages in order to stay at the Catalan Club. Old Trafford has been spent the ENTIRE summer pursuing him, as he was their top transfer target, and he’s not even coming. Why? Check out the latest update from The Athletic.
Or better yet, since it’s behind a paywall, read this snippet from NBC:
“Barcelona’s current board have accused the former board of ‘criminality’ when it comes to the most recent contract they gave De Jong, and they are willing to take legal action against all parties involved in the deal. The 25-year-old wants to stay at Barcelona despite Manchester United agreeing a contract with the Catalan club many weeks ago, while Barcelona want him to rip up his current contract and return to the deal he was on before.”
De Jong is intent on remaining at Barcelona and getting the money that he is owed- about 17 million Euro or $19m back pay. This despite United and Barcelona having agreed on a transfer fee amount, reportedly. Actually, twice, according to reports, but here we are and De Jong is still not coming. With less than a month left in the summer transfer window, United are pursuing Rabiot as a last resort.
Maybe this is finally admitting defeat in what has become the most tedious, pointless and annoyingly protracted transfer saga of all time.
A lot of what happened here is far outside the fault of Richard Arnold and John Murtough, but they’re lack of any real contingency plan is truly baffling. A central midfielder, with poise, calm and control is absolutely critical to what Erik ten Hag needs to make this team do what he wants to do. He doesn’t have that in Scott McTominay and Fred. We all knew that, heading into this season. And yesterday’s season opening disaster only drove that point home further.
As for Ronaldo, well, no matter what you think about who he is and all that he has done for the club over time- right now he’s hurting the club. That is undeniable. He’s way more a hindrance than an asset now. I don’t know what the exact answer is, but Wayne Rooney is totally right- let him go, and that’s best for both parties.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him and the website on Twitter and Instagram.Follow paulmbanks