Incoming Manchester United minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe is ready to get tough with Erik ten Hag’s underperforming squad – and is reportedly ready to let Anthony Martial leave on a free in January as the first of three high-profile exits.
The British billionaire’s 25% purchase of the Glazers’ majority shareholding, worth an estimated £1.4bn, is expected to be finalised in a matter of days. And as part of the arrangement with the club, Ratcliffe is expected to be handed a major say on all the incoming and outgoing transfer business at Manchester United.
To that end, funds are expected to be granted to under-pressure boss Ten Hag to strengthen his squad.
But before any new signings are given the green light, Ratcliffe has reportedly made it clear that a number of the club’s underperformers will need to be moved on too.
To that end, the non-nonsense Ratcliffe is already believed to have held talks with both the club’s hieracrhy and Ten Hag to make clear his plans.
And according to The Sun, he has told club bosses he is unhappy about seven big-money transfers the club has made in recent years. To that end, the signings of Paul Pogba for a club record £89.2m and the former club-record £59.7m on Angel Di Maria have been called into question by Ratcliffe and cited as examples of mistakes the club cannot afford to repeat.
The £75m fee paid for Romelu Lukaku has also been called up, with the club then changing their minds on him just two years later and letting him move on.
However, while Ratcliffe cannot control what happened around that trio, he will have a major say on another four.
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Man Utd tell Anthony Martial he can leave
And the report claims that £56m signing Anthony Martial, who is now in his ninth season at Old Trafford following a high-profile move from Monaco in 2015, will be the first casualty of the Ratcliffe reign.
The Frenchman’s deal has been due to expire in the summer and there has been some debate around United chiefs over whether to offer the player yet another contract extension.
Part of that thinking would be to ensure they don’t lose their asset as a free agent, and repeat the scenario that befell them with Pogba in summer 2022.
However, Ratcliffe has reportedly made it clear that he does not see Martial as part of his long-term plans and it’s reported the player will be brutally granted a free transfrer with immediate effect in January, rather than waiting until the summer when his deal expires.
To that end, it’s reported that Inter Milan are already lining up a move for the 113-goal forward in light of his sudden free-agent status.
It seems Martial will not just be the only costly departure to leave too, with a report earlier this week claiming it was now a ‘certainty’ that Donny van de Beek will also be moved on.
The Dutchman, a £40m signing from Ajax in summer 2020, has proved a major disappointment for the Red Devils, featuring in just 62 matches for the club, scoring two goals.
Ratcliffe to move one of two wingers on at Man Utd
Two other players are also reportedly on Ratcliffe’s hitlist with one of Jadon Sancho and Antony also likely to leave.
Antony cost an eye-watering £85m from Ajax in summer 2022, but has failed to impress since the move.
However, his exit is likely to be delayed with United unable to lose a third attacking star and amid lingering doubts over Sancho.
The England winger has suffered a very-public falling out with Ten Hag with Sancho accusing his manager of lies and suggesting he was being “scapegoated”.
With no public apology forthcoming, Ten Hag is ready to offload the £73m in the January window.
A number of Premier League sides and clubs in Saudi Arabia have been touted with a move. However, his former club Borussia Dortmund are among those keen, while we exclusively revealed that Juventus are also hot on his trail.
The Serie A giants want to sign the 23-times England star on an initial loan with a view to a permanent deal.
It is understood Ratcliffe would rather keep Sancho and sell Antony. However, Ten Hag’s decision will hold sway on this occasion with the Brazilian handed something of a temporary reprieve with a decision on his long-term future likely to be made in the summer.
With Martial, Sancho and Van de Beek moving on, however, United will be looking to immediately replace the £169m transfer flops.
And Ten Hag’s priority is understood to be on a new striker to help partner Rasmus Hojlund and take some of the goalscoring pressure off the young Dane’s shoulders.
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