Manchester United may have been linked to Real Madrid left-back Sergio Reguilon, but the club are absolutely right not to pursue a deal for a player now likely to join Premier League rivals Tottenham.
Spurs are confident of concluding a deal for the 23-year-old, who impressed on loan at Sevilla last season and was part of the side that won the club’s record sixth Europa League title. But for United, interest and talks didn’t progress beyond the enquiry stage.
While Reguilon may ultimately prove to be a shrewd buy for Spurs, the deal Real Madrid are prepared to agree to doesn’t fit with United’s plans and long-term strategy.
The crux of the issue centres on a buy-back clause that Real want included in any sale agreement. That is not something United could get on board with because it means that the power stays in Madrid, even though the transfer would have been on a permanent basis.
If Spurs are willing to accept that concession then that is their prerogative, but United understandably didn’t want another club to have control over the future of one of their players.
A buy-back clause gives Real the opportunity to re-sign Reguilon in the future for a fixed price. If Reguilon continues to develop as a player as expected and that pre-agreed buy-back fee falls below his actual market value then Real are in a win-win situation at the expense of the other club.
Either they get a top quality player for a knockdown price to use in their own squad, or can sell for a profit to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, United or Spurs would be cut out and powerless.
This scenario has been seen before when Alvaro Morata re-joined Real from Juventus in 2016. A €30m buy-back clause had been agreed in the original €20m sale and Real opted to trigger it after two seasons that had seen Morata become one of the highest rated emerging strikers in Europe.
Real actually kept him initially, but despite scoring 20 goals in all competitions he was still a fringe player and was then sold to Chelsea in 2017 for more than twice what Real had paid. They more than doubled their money in only 12 months, but Juventus’ profit was limited to just €10m.
Although United are no longer the all-powerful intimidating force they once were when Sir Alex Ferguson was controlling every aspect of the football operations, they have already shown in recent months they are not prepared to relinquish any control over players.
Refusal to include a release clause in a deal for Erling Haaland was one among the factors that saw the Norwegian sensation join Borussia Dortmund in January instead, despite United once being favourite to complete a deal. It was suggested at the time that a release clause would give agent Mino Raiola too much power and influence in dictating a transfer away in the future.