Manchester United’s financial figures are always scary to look at when they are released. The club’s mounting debt is a product of the Glazers’ leveraged buyout, which is a precursor to other problems.
Barcelona’s financial mess is less easy to explain, other than to point at gross mismanagement.
The Spanish club are over their allotted salary limit, Marca report, and cannot afford new signings Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero, let alone re-signing Lionel Messi, unless they offload players.
They are frantically trying to do so, with Francisco Trincao loaned to Wolves and Junior Firpo sold to Leeds. More outgoings are expected.
It’s hard to have much sympathy for a club which paid £130 million for Philippe Coutinho and £110 million for Antoine Griezmann. Marca report Barcelona are now keen to sell the Frenchman, but his wages make it tricky.
This is where United can be opportunistic. This is a chance for the Red Devils to take advantage of Barcelona’s potentially crippling financial situation and sign their stars on the cheap.
All four players we are suggesting as potential signings are ones Barcelona would prefer to keep, but that’s the point; they are good footballers who would improve United, and in their financial situation they may not have the luxury of being too fussy…
Frenkie De Jong
De Jong was linked with United prior to moving to Barcelona for £65 million in 2019. United always seemed like second favourites in the pursuit of the Ajax man and it was no surprise to see him end up at the Nou Camp.
Since joining the La Liga giants, De Jong’s spell has not been smooth. Last season might have been his best yet, he started 35 games in the league in midfield, and had the second highest number of touches in La Liga, behind only Jordi Alba.
The 24-year-old would be a huge asset to United’s midfield, and Donny van de Beek would love the opportunity to link up with his former Ajax teammate at Old Trafford.
De Jong scored seven goals in all competitions last season too, while also providing five assists. A move for him is a long shot, but it would not pain United to make an enquiry, given Barcelona’s situation.
18-year-old Ilaix Moriba is considered one of the best midfield prospects in Spain after breaking into Barcelona’s first team last season.
Moriba managed 18 first team appearances, getting on the scoresheet and providing three assists.
The Mirror reported earlier this year that United were interested, and while this may have simply been a precursor to his contract extension talks, Barcelona are in a weak position.
Moriba still has not signed his renewal, Marca report, and his current deal is scheduled to run out in 2022. If United made a move, it would fit with the transfer strategy currently being used to pursue Eduardo Camavinga and Raphael Varane. Another way to look at it, is Moriba might become a fall-back option in case the Camavinga deal falls through.
Euro 2020 sensation Pedri is going to be one of the players Barcelona most desperately want to hang onto after his exploits with Spain.
At the same time, this could be the perfect time to cash in, if there is interest from multiple bidders.
Pedri, 18, is an asset who could be too good for United to ignore, and with Barcelona’s crippling financial situation, there may never be a better opportunity to try and sign him.
The teenager could be a long term replacement for Juan Mata, and could benefit from a year learning alongside him if United were bold enough to succeed in making such a move.
Remember those ludicrous reports last summer which suggested United would not pay up for Jadon Sancho but might consider a higher bid for Ansu Fati?
Well much like Sancho, Fati would cost far less this summer considering Barcelona’s financial mess.
Fati had a lesser role than he may have liked last season due to an injury which ended his season in November. Beforehand he had scored four goals in seven games.
This might be a moment where United consider it is too good an opportunity to turn down taking a chance on Fati, if Barcelona are willing to sell in the region of £60 million.
United have far more pressing areas of the pitch to address in defence and midfield of course, but it might not be very day the club gets a chance to sign a player like Fati on the cheap.