Manchester United: Boardroom battle over Southampton's Fonte; Jones' future unsure; Schweinsteiger latest
Despite having spent around £150 million on the likes of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, Jose Mourinho is now said to be involved in a “transfer stand-off” as he demands more funds to sanction a move for Southampton defender Jose Fonte, claim the Manchester Evening News. Ed Woodward and other board members are insisting that the newly appointed manager must sell players to fund any further purchases having already spent his budget for the summer, but Mourinho wants to retain most of his current squad.
Mourinho is used to such stand-offs, having been through similar situations at Chelsea and Real Madrid before. At just £12 million, Fonte may not seem an expensive addition and would be the cheapest signing this summer, other than free agent Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It represents Mourinho’s strong belief that the Red Devils defence requires reinforcements if his side is to be solid enough to be able to mount a title challenge this season, as his board expect having already spent so much this summer.
One of the men who is likely to be impacted by this stand-off is Phil Jones, with conflicting reports over his future. Stoke City are interested in taking the central defender on loan, and whilst the Daily Mail claim that a deal is on the cards with one week left of the transfer window, the Guardian say that Jose Mourinho still sees Jones as part of his squad, and he will not depart this summer. When asked, Stoke’s assistant manager Mark Bowen said “Fingers crossed, something may happen.” That failed to shed much light on the situation.
For Jones, whatever happens, this season will be a big one for his future. Having fallen out of favour with England and currently not making much of an impact on the United first team, a loan move to Stoke could be perfect for the former Blackburn man in terms of allowing him to get the first team football to gain experience and prove himself at Premier League level as one of the best young English defenders. At 24-years-old, Jones is reaching the age where his career could be at a make or break point.
One player whose future is more clear is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who may form part of the sales to fund a move for Jose Fonte. The Mirror say that the Red Devils will accept a £5 million loss on the German who they signed just one year ago, and allow him to leave for as little as £2 million. Interest in the 32-year-old seems to have cooled in recent weeks, but United remain confident that they will sell him before the window closes.
Reportedly on a wage representative of a first team player, United will not want a player raking in such a weekly sum and rotting in the reserves while his manager refuses to play him. Juventus could be one destination, though the move likely depends on if they secure Blaise Matuidi from PSG to replace Paul Pogba, but with talks having been ongoing between the two clubs over United’s £89 million man all summer, it could be a quickly concluded deal should they turn their attentions to the World Cup winner instead.
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