Sir Jim Ratcliffe is plotting a £100m fire sale of Manchester United’s unwanted stars, starting with Mason Greenwood.
Once his stake in the club is ratified, the priority of the Ineos owner is to carry out a structural overhaul, but once major boardroom changes have been made, next on the agenda is to begin offloading players.
Greenwood represents the club’s best hope of garnering a substantial fee for a youth product given that, in the eyes of Financial Fair Play regulators, cashing in on academy graduates can be regarded as 100 per cent profit.
Charges of attempted rape, controlling behaviour and assault against Greenwood were dropped in February last year, with United and the player deciding that he best resumes his career elsewhere following a six-month internal investigation.
Greenwood has impressed while on loan at Getafe in Spain this season, with several LaLiga clubs keeping tabs on the 22-year-old, several sources told i. Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move, but Atletico Madrid are also in the running, as are Valencia, insiders said.
“Of course a move for him may be problematic, with clubs unwilling to comment on any links at this stage,” a Spain-based insider said. “But Barca have been watching him from the minute he arrived, as have other teams.”
A move for Greenwood now is seen as less of a risk than the one Getafe took in taking him to Spain, with ill-feeling from opposition supporters and campaign groups having calmed down, after initial animosity towards him.
United insisted when he left on loan that Greenwood had no future in Manchester. Therefore, a quick sale, one that can be arranged before the season is out, is something the incoming regime could really benefit from.
Greenwood is not the only academy product United may well dispense of. Despite his goal return this season, Scott McTominay is seen as replaceable, with the hope West Ham come back in for the Scot this summer, while some graduates out on loan – Hannibal Mejbri and Alvaro Fernandez – have clauses in their deals that could make their Old Trafford exits permanent at the end of their loan spells. All in, the club could recoup towards £100m on academy products alone.
The outgoings, Ratcliffe and his new football committee hope, are not going to end there. Insiders have confirmed reports that several stars have been offered to Saudi Arabian clubs, after current football director John Murtough visited the country during the Club World Cup in December.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Casemiro, Jadon Sancho and Antony were all on the list of possible options, sources said, with no clubs as yet preparing offers.
United triggered the option for an additional year to be added to Wan-Bissaka’s contract earlier this month, but with a sale in mind. Casemiro was identified by Ratcliffe and Ineos as the epitome of everything that is wrong about United’s transfer policy – signing ageing, expensive stars whose best years are behind them.
Getting his huge wages off the books, as part of the overall economising, is seen as a good starting point for the new administration.
Sancho’s future is still very much up in the air, but the early signs are promising that he can revive his stuttering career on loan at Borussia Dortmund. Should he do so, and Erik ten Hag and his new bosses decide not to reintegrate him into the United set-up, numerous suitors could come in with a summer offer. The phone lines are not expected to be ringing off the hook for Antony, however, after his season to forget so far.
Generating income for unwanted figures has been yet another area of concern for United in recent years. While Manchester City have often garnered tens of millions for youngsters who had not kicked a ball in the senior side, United have been left with a host of personnel they could do without.
The new regime wants to change that. Should they generate around £200m for players who won’t be missed, for one reason or another, Ineos and Ratcliffe’s red revolution can begin in earnest.