Man Utd chief’s explanation on Erik ten Hag transfer struggles speaks volumes

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Written By Maya Cantina

Manchester United have had a quiet January, and this should perhaps come as no surprise following comments from football director John Murtough about the month not being the best time to do business.

United spent around £200m over the summer, with Rasmus Hojlund, Mason Mount and Andre Onana accounting for the bulk of that total. There hasn’t been a single new senior arrival in January, though, with United instead trimming their squad by loaning out the likes of Jadon Sancho, Hannibal Mejbri and Facundo Pellistri.

It’s a similar story to this time last year, though United were at least able to dip into the loan market. Deadline day arrival Marcel Sabitzer made some important contributions, but Ten Hag might not even be able to bring in a fresh face on a short-term deal this time around.

Familiar doesn’t always mean popular, of course, and there will be some United fans still frustrated by the lack of business. Even so, previous comments from Murtough align with the current situation.

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“Looking ahead to the January transfer window, we are not expecting it to be particularly busy,” Murtough told a fans’ forum in December. “There will always be the possibility of deals around the edges of the squad, particularly in terms of finding opportunities for players who are not playing as much football as they would like.

“However, we’ve always been consistent in saying that we do not see January as the optimal time to do business and our recruitment strategy remains focused on summer windows.

“We’ve seen this season that financial fair play (FFP) rules have real teeth, so we have to be very careful to ensure that we remain compliant, and we will. But that means being really disciplined on spending going forward, with a balance between incomings and outgoings.”

Have Manchester United missed an opportunity in January? Have your say in the comments section

Facundo Pellistri arriving ahead of Newport v Man Utd
Facundo Pellistri is among the Manchester United players to leave in January
Getty Images)

A number of the players loaned out by United in January could yet leave permanently in the summer. Sevilla reportedly have a £17m option to sign Hannibal permanently if he impresses in Spain, while Alvaro Fernandez Carreras is expected to be available to loan side Benfica for about half that amount.

United’s slow start to the season has left them far adrift of the Premier League’s top five, prompting some to wonder whether more incomings were needed in January. However, manager Erik ten Hag may have also hinted at a quiet January when speaking of the importance of some senior stars’ returns from injury.

“I think we are very optimistic,” Ten Hag said at the end of December. “When the players return and now the luck is a little bit on our side in the matter of injuries then we have five or six new signings in January.”

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