It seems Manchester United never learn as another fringe player is set to be awarded a new contract.
The rationale is that with his contract expiring in June, he is free to talk to other clubs from January and would leave for free at the end of the season if a deal was struck. Offering him a contract extension would give United more time to find a buyer rather than lose him for nothing.
The strategy makes sense, but only if, when it comes to negotiations, United are realistic in how much they ask for the player. If they are not, then they will end up paying another year’s wages to a player they do not want.
Another potential problem with the strategy is salary. United are among the top payers in football and by extending a player’s contract on a particular salary, buying clubs would usually need to match or exceed that salary in order to persuade the player to leave.
For most players, this limits the number of clubs that could afford the player’s contract even if a transfer fee could be agreed with United.
The club already admitted that they have put a premium on Lingard’s fee because he is an academy product and English. Having tried to demand £20 million for the likes of Chris Smalling and Sergio Romero, this means they are likely to be completely unrealistic in their valuation of the 28-year-old, who according to Transfermarkt.com is now only valued at £9 million. Spurs reportedly showed interest in the player in the summer but were put off by the fee demanded by the Red Devils.
United have made this mistake before but never seem to learn their lesson. They extended Phil Jones’ £75,000 per week contract by four years in February 2019. He has only started six Premier League games since and has pocketed around £7,500,000 worth of salary. It is unlikely again that anyone will buy him this January due to ongoing injury problems and lack of game time. His market value is just £5 million.
Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero could have been loaned out, but United’s insistence on a sale at an unrealistic price has left them paying their wages with no hope of a transfer until their contract runs down. A recent three-year extension to 32-year-old Nemanja Matic’s contract may leave them in a similar position if he is unable to keep a regular place in the team.
It is a case of fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me where United’s contract negotiators are concerned. Only in their case, they are about to be fooled for the sixth or seventh time.
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