Manchester United may struggle to sign a central midfielder before the transfer deadline next week because any further new arrivals need to be funded by player sales.
United have landed Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer for £73m and £41m respectively, strengthening key positions that needed addressing, but deficiencies in a lacklustre performance against Southampton on Sunday underlined the need for a midfield player.
The likes of Ruben Neves, Yves Bissuma and Eduardo Camavinga are thought to be available for £40m or less. However, United haven’t been immune to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and transfer funds are limited.
The Athletic writes that United will not sign any more players ahead of the deadline unless sales are made first. That could include the likes of Jesse Lingard, who remains of interest to West Ham, but the chance of any outgoing transfers at this stage is considered ‘low’.
United are ‘not closed off to offers’, but with Lingard, for example, West Ham have hesitated in taking things forward because of the £30m asking price.
The payment structures for both the Sancho and Varane deals have been spread over multiple seasons, which isn’t uncommon, crucially suppressing the initial cost of the transfers this year.
If United went back into the market for another player before Tuesday night’s deadline they would hope for a deal that comes with a similarly low initial investment.
But aside from pursuing any permanent transfers, a loan might be the best solution to tick that box of allowing United to strengthen in midfield without the need to sell first.
Saul Niguez is the obvious option in that sense after Atletico Madrid made the Spaniard available. The only problem is that Chelsea are already believed to have made a more concrete approach of their own, with the player himself given the freedom to choose his own destination.