(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Ed Woodward doesn’t make a habit of responding to speculation, so it was significant that Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman alluded to talk of a £200million bid for Harry Kane when he spoke publicly in April.
‘I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport,’ said Woodward.
‘Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of the challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be business as usual for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer.’
Woodward has since gone on to say that the coronavirus pandemic represents ‘one of the most extraordinary and testing periods in the 142-year history of Manchester United’. Quite a statement from a club that had to relocate to Maine Road when Old Trafford was bombed during the Second World War and then endured the Munich Air Disaster.
The message from United in recent months has been clear. These are unprecedented times. It is not business as usual. Even for a club of their stature, the future is uncertain enough to warrant taking out a £140m loan from a rarely used credit facility in America to guard against the worst possible effects of the pandemic.
The transfer window – whenever it opens – will be different to usual. Money will be tighter and fees will be significantly lower. Swap deals, we are told, will be more common in football now.
Which is why United’s decision to extend Odion Ighalo’s loan from Shanghai Shenhua until the end of January makes a great deal of sense.
Ighalo doesn’t come cheap. On top of a £6m loan fee for the next eight months, United will continue to pay £130,000 of his £300,000-a-week wages.
But it’s still a relatively modest deal by their standards and infinitely more realistic right now than a world record bid for Kane which would fall at the other end of the scale.
It’s not to say that United won’t make a big-name signing in the next window. Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish are two other names to be heavily linked with the club.
But, either way, keeping Ighalo was a wise move. He is an experienced Premier League player who has done enough since returning to England on deadline day in January to show he can still be effective at this level.