Manchester United have spent close to £250 million since Louis van Gaal took charge at Old Trafford in the summer of 2014, but, according to executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, the clubs is still looking to improve the squad. The Premier League giants’ recent policy, which has seen them pay huge transfer fees for the likes of Anthony Martial and Ángel di María and target some of the world’s biggest stars, is in sharp contrast to the more frugal approach during the last years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. And, emboldened by huge new sponsorship contracts and a desire to return the team to top echelon of European and world soccer, the recent approach is set to continue.
Speaking at a Fans Forum, Woodward outline the club’s plan as to “continue to look to strengthen the squad and to reward young talent,” according to the Daily Mail.
Yet, although the ambition appears high, Manchester United’s difficulties in securing the world’s premier talent could continue. The 20-time English champions are already thought to have targeted marquee names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Thomas Müller, Neymar and others, but to no avail.
The pursuit of Neymar, however, is reportedly ongoing. Even when linked to the Barcelona forward this summer, it was believed that United were playing a long game with a view to securing his services next summer, when his current contract would be entering its final two years. While the Brazilian has flourished at the Camp Nou since arriving in 2013, the prospect of moving out of the shadow of Lionel Messi and becoming the undisputed star at another of Europe’s giants is thought to appeal to the 23-year-old. But, speaking this week, he insisted he was perfectly content where he is.
“I am very happy at the club and in Barcelona, where I have adapted very well,” he told Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo. “I have three more years on my contract, and my father looks after these issues. My only concern now is to be focused on helping the team and to keep winning titles with Barcelona.”
When asked about whether he wanted to renew his contract, he added: “Of course, but we will discuss that later.”
Manchester United also have a long-held dream of bringing Ronaldo back to Old Trafford. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner starred at United for six years before departing to Real Madrid for a world-record fee in 2009. Although he was linked with both United and Paris Saint-Germain in the last transfer window, it is next summer that looks to be a crucial time in determining his future, given that, like Neymar, he will be heading into the final two years of his current deal. Yet, just as he did when signing this most recent contract, the 30-year-old has reiterated his desire to retire at Real Madrid.
“I want to win more,” he told Spanish daily Marca after picking up his fourth European Golden Boot award. “I still feel good and young. I'm 30 now and I'd like to keep playing for another five or six years. I know that it gets harder with age, but I believe it's possible. As I've said several times before, my dream is to end my career at Real Madrid.”
Manchester United have had plenty of contact with Real Madrid in recent months, specifically over the failed transfer of David de Gea. The goalkeeper’s long mooted move to the Bernabeu dramatically fell through at the last minute on transfer deadline day and just a few weeks later he signed an improved contract at Old Trafford. However, immediately there were rumors that the deal included a release clause allowing Real Madrid to revive their interest. And, speaking after helping Spain to a Euro 2016 qualifying win over Ukraine on Monday, the 24-year-old refused to deny the existence of such a clause.
“You should ask [De Gea’s agent] Jorge [Mendes] that question,” he said. “He is the one who pays attention to those sort of details.”