As Sheikh Jassim battles to buy Manchester United, it was reported on Thursday that the Qatari billionaire has no transfer targets in mind for the club. Instead, he’s merely focused on purchasing the Red Devils and removing the Glazers from power. And that’s the right approach, giving Erik ten Hag far more freedom as a result.
Sky Sports claimed on Thursday that Sheikh Jassim, contrary to other suggestions, didn’t have any transfer targets in mind for United.
The Red Devils have been linked with Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, as well as Eduardo Camavinga and Kingsley Coman.
But while United have emerged as potential suitors for all four players, Sheikh Jassim doesn’t appear to be focused on any potential summer business.
Instead, his main aim is to complete a takeover – with Sir Jim Ratcliffe very much a rival.
And that makes sense. United, after all, can’t afford for any meddling in footballing matters from those who aren’t experienced in the field.
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That’s not to say Sheikh Jassim doesn’t know what he’s doing. Both he and Ratcliffe are astute businessmen convinced their wealth can improve the club.
But an owner forcing players on managers seldom works out well, if ever at all.
Ten Hag has his own targets in mind, with Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Mason Mount all being eyed amid uncertainty over their futures at Tottenham, West Ham and Chelsea respectively.
And it would be wise of United to sign players the Dutchman wants, instead of those he doesn’t.
Of course, Ten Hag would likely accept deals for the likes of Neymar and Mbappe due to their immense quality.
He kept his cards close to his chest when quizzed on Neymar on Thursday, keeping things coy by telling journalists he’d provide news when the club had some.
But United have been stung by signing players managers don’t want in previous years.
Louis van Gaal was never really sold in the idea of loaning Radamel Falcao in from Monaco given his injury woes in 2014.
Yet that didn’t stop Ed Woodward from approving a deal for the Colombia international, who would score just four times before returning to the Ligue 1 side.
There were suggestions Jose Mourinho didn’t want Fred at Old Trafford in 2018.
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But United again opted to land the Brazil international despite the wishes of their manager.
It was a similar story with Alexis Sanchez, too. Mourinho would later confess to his inner circle that he’d wanted Ivan Perisic, currently at Tottenham, instead.
And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced to put up with a deal for Donny van de Beek in 2020 when, really, he’d preferred to raid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish.
Deals for the likes of Falcao, Fred, Sanchez and Van de Beek were all brokered by the United hierarchy, with managers having little say.
And Sheikh Jassim would be wise to avoid treading a similar path if his takeover bid succeeds.
Chelsea must act as a warning, too.
The Blues upset Mourinho by landing Andriy Shevchenko in 2006 and Mourinho would later confess the Ukraine international wasn’t a main target.
Then, back in January, Chelsea signed Mykhaylo Mudryk for a huge £87million against the wishes of Graham Potter.
Potter had wanted the west London giants to fork out for a new striker instead and would lose his job mere months later.
As United look to challenge Manchester City for Premier League title supremacy next season, it’ll certainly be interesting to see who they bring in.