EXCLUSIVE: Man Utd transfer plans in jeopardy as Maguire and Amrabat deals stall

Jacque Talbot
Jacque Talbot
  • Updated: 17 Aug 2023 19:31 BST
  • 6 min read
Erik ten Hag next to the Manchester United badge
© ProShots

Erik ten Hag’s overhaul was planned as far back as the summer of last year. We revealed that up to 11 first-team players were set to be moved on, including Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek, Harry Maguire, Fred, Brandon Williams, and Anthony Martial.

Of course, given the high wages that these players are on, it was never going to be easy for the Dutchman, though the club have not accepted some of the offers available to them in some cases.

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As we reported two weeks ago, Maguire’s exit was unlikely to happen - he is after a new side that could help his England chances, while there were issues around the severance package from Man Utd he would receive if he did exit.

READ MORE: Man Utd face Arsenal hijack BOMBSHELL for Ten Hag’s top target - Romano

McTominay was heavily linked to Newcastle, but nothing came of it - it seems, in fact, that Eddie Howe's side was happy to ratify the Man Utd briefings as a useful smokescreen for their real targets - Sandro Tonali or Nicolo Barella.

Van de Beek’s move to Real Sociedad has hit an impasse, at the time of writing. Brandon Williams also remains. Man Utd knocked back offers from West Ham for Maguire and McTominay. So far this window, the biggest sum the Premier League giants have received was for Anthony Elanga, who left Nottingham Forest for €17.5m. Fred left for Fenerbahce for €9.7m, Matej Kovar to Bayer Leverkusen for €5m, and Alex Telles to Al-Nassr for €4.6m.

Man Utd recouped the most from the sale of Elanga
© ProShots - Man Utd recouped the most from the sale of Elanga

In total, Man Utd has recouped just €38.7m so far in total player sales. By contrast, the transfer-active Chelsea has received €253.9m, and a number of those players were from their academy, which has cushioned issues.

The takeover was thought to be settled around April time - possibly in the summer at the latest. We were told that any eventual Qatari takeover would have given Man Utd a boost of some €70m to their kitty given the debt would be cleared, making it around €220m plus player sales. It hasn’t happened yet and so Ten Hag was handed €150m. Ten Hag used most of it to buy Mason Mount, Andre Onana, and Rasmus Hojlund. This has seen a total of €191.7 million spent so far.

If you’re quick at math, you can see where Man Utd is struggling - it leaves them with next to nothing left. FootballTransfers revealed Ten Hag’s pinpointing of Sofyan Amrabat as his main target for the midfield in early June. This was on the basis of his ability, granted, but it was also because the Fiorentina player, whose contract ends with his current side in less than a year, would be a relatively cheap sum compared to other targets.

Amrabat is also desperate to come to Old Trafford and cannot understand why it’s taking so long. Why has it? Simply: Man Utd has overpaid and failed to move on players: they thought that the sale of Fred would be enough to purchase the Moroccan, but it’s not - they need to sell more to get him for around €35 million.

Harry Maguire is not wanted

Maguire is not wanted by Ten Hag - he does not fit the coach’s philosophy, though the latest news reports have U-turned on this, stressing that he is very much in Ten Hag’s plans. Make no mistake, Ten Hag is frustrated by keeping him and not having someone like Kim Min-jae, or even Benjamin Pavard who can operate centrally and on the flank like Luke Shaw. Also, to his dismay, the takeover has hampered the funds available to him in this window. and the inflated sums that Man Utd has been met with - the club nowhere near thought that they would have to pay Atalanta €75 million for Hojlund, we are told - and the fact that a large number of the players he earmarked for sale, way back in the summer of 2022, remain at the club.

READ MORE: Which teams have the biggest net spend on transfers this summer?

Hojlund cost far more than Man Utd would have liked
© ProShots - Hojlund cost far more than Man Utd would have liked

Ten Hag had envisaged Hojlund as a versatile attacker rather than someone who would be leading the line as the club battles with the Champions League next season. Check Ten Hag’s resume: Sebastien Haller, Wout Weghost, even being happy to have Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the season prior, Ten Hag’s blueprint is fostered in having a traditional No.9 to base the attack around. He did not expect to be solely relying on a 20-year-old who scored ten goals last season and is yet to develop; as good or as world-class as Hojlund may become, Ten Hag did not want that risk. No manager would.

The former Ajax coach still wants a striker and a holding midfielder with ball-playing ability - Declan Rice and Frenkie de Jong were the main targets for that position until it was clear that the takeover would carry into next season and a transfer for either would be pie in the sky. Ten Hag also wants another centre-back, but with Maguire staying that looks very unlikely.

The Glazers have impaired Ten Hag and the club before the season even started, while whose choice it was to knock back the approaches from West Ham for Maguire and McTominay, we may never know. It was a greedy move and one that means Man Utd is in a race to move on some of their assets and bring in some of Ten Hag’s targets before the window shuts in less than two weeks.

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