Erik ten Hag Hindered by Man Utd’s 10-Year Poor Track Record in Player Sales
Manchester United ‘s shocking ability to move players on for a profit is now coming back to haunt them in a major way.
The Red Devils have been more than happy to flex their financial muscles over the past decade, breaking transfer records on numerous occasions, but attracting the type of player that other clubs envy and also want has been a major issue, which speaks to their recruitment.
Erik ten Hag has somewhat been left picking up the broken crockery which has manifested itself in the form of a minimal transfer budget. Minimal being £120m, but in the modern age, with United looking to push on after a promising first season under the Dutchman, they are now being restricted.
The new FFP laws, known as Profit and Sustainability (P&S), state that any club can lose no more than £15m over a rolling three year period. That number can be increased should an owner invest in the club via shares but the Glazers have put in no equity themselves.
It means Ten Hag and his recruitment department must stick within the £15m loss limit. £60m of their summer budget has now been spent on Mason Mount leaving a further £60m to sign a marquee striker and potentially a goalkeeper as well as other positions – which is unlikely, bordering on impossible.
United’s spending power would be far greater had they generated notably revenue via player sales, but that has not happened at Old Trafford for the best part of a decade. The club is often assessed on the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era and with ten years now gone it still makes for grim reading.
Liverpool, Arsenal, City and Tottenham have all earned more than £300m from player sales. Chelsea have made profits of over £700m. United meanwhile have mustered just £113m – just over £11m per season since Ferguson left the dugout, as per the Daily Mail.
To put it into perspective, despite the quality and stellar names that have arrived at Old Trafford, the sale of David Beckham to Real Madrid in 2003 remains the club’s fourth most expensive departure. Their most expensive signing, Paul Pogba, was allowed to leave for free after a series of off-field moments that bought his commitment into question – hardly an appealing quality for potential buyers.
New chief executive Richard Arnold has bought in a “no di**heads” policy, no doubt to make any player the club buys attractive to other clubs should they need to sell on. Even the likes of Angel di Maria and Romelu Lukaku were sold for a loss despite their hefty fees.
Remarkably, the £10m profit made on Dan James when he was sold to Leeds remains one of United’s best pieces of work in terms of transfer fees spent and recaptured. The sales of Chris Smalling, Andreas Pereira and Javier Hernandez have also been for a profit, alongside some Old Trafford academy products.
United made a £37m loss in the 2021/22 season, impacting their P&S figure. A major way to off set that is through player sales, which is why Manchester City have been able to register a profit.
As mentioned previously, United’s strategy has not involved the buying of players who can then be moved on for bigger fees. Instead they have made huge losses on players who have arrived for big sums, underwhelmed, some who’ve been accused of having poor attitudes.
Consider their top six rivals – Chelsea have sold the likes of Eden Hazard and academy products like Tammy Abraham. Liverpool made huge profits on the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling. City sold the likes of Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus for far more than they bought them.