Man Utd have been monitoring Sofyan Amrabat throughout the transfer window but have been forced to make a loan offer two days before it shuts.
If the end of Manchester United’s permanent dealings in this transfer window come with a departure for Dean Henderson and the £4.3million arrival of Altay Bayindir, then the finances that tell the story of the summer will have a familiar ring to them.
United insisted that Financial Fair Play issues constrained them to a net spend of around £120million from the moment the window opened and the final tally looks set to be very close to that figure. So far, Andre Onana, Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund have been signed for £180million, with close to £40million recouped from the sales of Matej Kovar, Alex Telles, Fred and Antony Elanga.
Recoup another £20million for Henderson, as well as the smaller figures involved in the sale of academy graduates, and the final net spend tally with be compliant with what United felt they needed to stay within FFP limits. But it’s left them short of achieving what Erik ten Hag wanted through the summer.
As early as the first week of July, before the arrival of Mount had been confirmed, it was made clear Ten Hag was open to signing a second midfielder, but that any move would be dependent on sales and raising funds.
In Italy, United have been linked voraciously with Sofyan Amrabat since June and while sources close to the club played down how accurate some of the claims were, the 27-year-old was a player under consideration throughout the summer. Having played 50 games for Ten Hag at Utrecht, he is a player the manager knows well.
There was also a sense this was a simple enough deal to do once United had got their ducks in a row. Amrabat pushed to leave Fiorentina in January after an excellent World Cup for Morocco but left them with no time to sign a replacement. With just a year left on his contract, there was a feeling that this summer was the right time for all parties.
It felt telling that Amrabat was swiftly linked with Liverpool the moment their need for a No. 6 became clear. United might be the preference, but there was an attempt to get his name out there and find him the move that he felt his World Cup performances deserved.
Liverpool signed Waturo Endo instead and are now pushing to sign Ryan Gravenberch from Bayern Munich, another former Ten Hag midfielder that United were monitoring.
But with the path to Amrabat clear, United have been forced to make a loan offer to Fiorentina rather than a permanent transfer. With just a year left on his contract, that is an obvious issue for the Serie A side.
United have had to make the offer to take Amrabat on a temporary basis because they haven’t raised the funds they expected to this summer. There have been no major sales, with Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay set to stay beyond the end of the window. With a day left of the window, Eric Bailly and Donny van de Beek still remain at the club.
So United are trying to get creative to sign a player Ten Hag has wanted all window. There is now a reluctance to consider selling Maguire, given the injury to Raphael Varane, but if they sign Amrabat then it is only going to drop McTominay further down the pecking order.
United have once failed to deliver when it comes to selling players, however. They needed to raise around £100million to turn this into a really successful window, but look set to only bring in around £60million. That figure is going to be dwarfed by Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham and will be around the same figure as Liverpool.
In an era when FFP is becoming more of an issue, raising cash through sales is more important than ever and United have to get better at it.
Having struggled this summer, they are turning to the loan market once again. Marc Cucurella and Amrabat could both join in temporary moves before 11pm on Friday and while the situation is understandable with the former, it’s becoming a pattern. If both sign United will have signed five first-team squad players on loan in two windows. That’s not what we’ve come to expect from the elite clubs.