Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has made a huge admission after the January transfer window closed. Despite releasing a host of players on loan, the Dutchman failed to make any new signings of his own, with the club seemingly restricted by FFP regulations.
Anthony Martial had been expected to be sold last month, with the Frenchman eligible to leave for nothing in the summer. But his current fitness issues scuppered any plans of a sale, a development that Ten Hag addressed in his media conference today (Friday).
And the United boss admitted he was desperate to sign a new striker but the club weren’t able to spend any money.
“It’s not a secret I wanted a striker. With the injury to Martial, we don’t really have the back-up. But it wasn’t possible because we have to match the FFP rules,” he said.
The 54-year-old conceded that he would need to improvise to address the lack of forward power, despite seeing his side hit four against Wolves in a dramatic Premier League win on Thursday night. “We have Omari [Forson], we have Amad Diallo,” he said.
“Of course, we have Rashford, who can play there. But I think for the rest, all the positions are occupied. We have to be a little bit creative, it’s up to the No. 9 position.”
Fans at Old Trafford are envisaging a new era at Old Trafford after it was confirmed on Christmas Eve that Sir Jim Ratcliffe had completed his 25 per cent stake purchase of the club. The INEOS chief has vowed to inject new investment and is expected to be granted the final say of transfers.
However, it had already been made clear that the proposed funds would not be available until the next summer transfer window. Therefore, Ten Hag’s hands were tied in January, realistically needing to make big money sales in order to be able to buy.
Despite his “not a secret” quip, Ten Hag’s admission represents the first time he’s publicly confirmed that he was in the market for a striker. And his comments over Martial will also be perceived as the final nail in his United career, having failed to match expectations after signing as a teenager back in 2015.
The club can however take solace in the fact they weren’t the only club hampered by restrictions. In what proved a quiet month, the combined outlay of the 20 top-flight clubs was £100m – vastly lower than last year’s record spend of £815m.