If there has been one unanimous success of Erik ten Hag’s reign so far, it is his signings. The Manchester United manager fought hard for significant backing in his first transfer window and got what he wanted with a record level of investment.
United had never exceeded the £150million mark on permanent signings across a single window before Ten Hag arrived. This past summer they spent a staggering £225.4million on five players across one window, though that was offset significantly by the amount of big earners who left for free at the end of last season.
Given that United view themselves further ahead in their rebuilding plans than they had envisaged at this stage, Ten Hag has already been warned that he won’t have as much to spend in the transfer market next year.
It is totally understandable from United’s point of view – though that doesn’t mean Ten Hag agrees. The Dutchman is keen for a further overhaul of his squad, not just with a couple of new starters, but with a significant improvement in his bench options too.
In order to do that, the United manager will not only need to make every penny count next summer, but he will also need to raise funds elsewhere by moving on a plethora of players still stranded on the periphery.
Then there are Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe. The two centre-backs are out of contract at the end of the season, but United have the option of triggering an additional year in order to protect their value.
It makes most sense to let them both leave for free, though if a buyer is found, a nominal fee in the region of the low millions could probably be charged in order to complete a deal.
Of course, it is far easier said than done to actually shift players on to other clubs, particularly when they have hardly featured for United in recent memory, but there is certainly a lot of talent that could shine elsewhere if given the chance.
United can’t keep investing huge sums of money without recouping it from elsewhere and next summer their spending power could be significantly enhanced by finally shifting their deadwood.