Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to raise as much as £60m through player sales this summer after being handed a modest budget of around £80m by his board.
The Norwegian spent around £75m on Donny van de Beek, Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles, Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellestri last summer, as the financial reality of the coronavirus pandemic was felt for the first time in the market.
Around £15m was raised through the sale of Chris Smalling to Roma, while Alexis Sanchez’s move to Inter Milan meant United freed up significant space on their wage bill.
Club finances have barely improved since, though United are on course to qualify for the Champions League in consecutive seasons for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
Though some work must still be done to achieve a top-four finish, United are confident of achieving Champions League qualification and Metro.co.uk has been told Solskjaer would be given a budget of around £80m as a result.
The Norwegian wants to sign a centre-back, a right winger, a defensive midfielder and – depending on Edinson Cavani’s future – a centre forward this summer.
With at least three signings needed, Solskjaer needs more than £80m to complete a summer overhaul and the 47-year-old is acutely aware of the need to raise funds through player sales.
Jesse Lingard’s fine form at West Ham has boosted United’s chances of getting the club’s £20m asking price for the midfielder. The Red Devils turned down a request from the Hammers to include an option to buy for around £14m in January and they’re now confident of getting closer to their valuation for the playmaker.
Solskjaer agreed to let Diogo Dalot join AC Milan on a season-long loan last summer, in part due to the club’s belief that his value could increase if he was given regular minutes at the San Siro.
The Portuguese full-back was signed for £18m from Porto in 2018 and he’s made 22 appearances for the Serie A giants this term. United would hope to earn a small increase on what they paid for Dalot and they’re in a strong position given he has two years to run on his deal, with an option of a further year.
Phil Jones hasn’t played a single minute for the club this term, though Solskjaer remains an admirer of the central defender. While there has never been a question mark over Jones’ quality, his inability to stay fit means he’s surplus to requirements at Old Trafford and Solskjaer is keen to move him on, particularly as he feels a change of environment could help the former Blackburn defender.
Newcastle United, Burnley and West Ham have all shown interest in Jones over the last 18 months and United hope to recoup around £10m for the England defender this summer, given he has over two years to run on his deal at the Theatre of Dreams.
Juan Mata is out of contract at the end of the season but United expect to trigger a 12-month extension clause in his deal before listening to offers for the Spaniard.
Roma, Inter Milan and Juventus have all shown interest in the playmaker, who remains one of the highest earners at Old Trafford.
Mata’s salary means the 32-year-old would have to take a significant pay-cut to leave the Theatre of Dreams and United would take that into account when looking to offload the Spaniard.
With Sergio Romero set to leave on a free when his contract expires, United will cut a significant portion of their wage bill and Solskjaer hopes he can boost his budget by around £60m to £140m.
That would give Solskjaer more scope to target a top-level centre-back to partner Harry Maguire, while Jadon Sancho of Dortmund remains a priority target.
However, United must make a decision over the future of Paul Pogba, with the Frenchman entering the last year of his deal this summer.
Mino Raiola claimed in December that the midfielder is ‘unhappy’ at Old Trafford and it was best for all parties if he was allowed to exit. Pogba consequently produced some of the best football of his United career in the following two months, raising hopes that he could extend his deal.
The 27-year-old has vowed to leave discussions over his future until the end of the season but should he refuse to sign a new deal, United will have no option but to cash in on the £89m France international.
Former club Juventus remain interested in the midfielder, while Paris Saint-Germain have a long-term interest but the Ligue 1 club have their sights set on Lionel Messi this summer.
Solskjaer will be given whatever money is raised through the sale of Pogba but the Norwegian would prefer to keep the Frenchman, even if relations are strained with his agent.