Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to value dressing room harmony over transfer business as the club continue to deal with the fall-out from Alexis Sanchez’s disastrous move, sources have told ESPN.
Sanchez earned around £400,000-a-week, which rose to close to £500,000-a-week after bonuses, when he joined United from Arsenal in the ill-fated swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January 2018. Solskjaer is determined not to repeat the mistake in this transfer window as he looks to continue his rebuild, with his desire that United no longer give in to extortionate wage demands central to discussions around targets such as Donny van de Beek, Jadon Sancho and Thiago Alcantara..
Sources told ESPN one of the reasons Van de Beek’s move from Ajax was wrapped up so quickly was because of the Netherlands international’s willingness to fit into the existing wage structure, something he told Solskjaer directly during a FaceTime call with the United boss two days before a £40 million fee was agreed with Ajax.
United have finally got Sanchez — who managed just three Premier League goals at Old Trafford and opened up in an Instagram video on Friday about his time at the club — off the books after agreeing a pay-off to end his contract two years early and facilitate a free transfer to Inter Milan.
Sources told ESPN when Solskjaer arrived as manager in December 2018, he found Sanchez’s deal had caused problems in the dressing room as other players looked to measure their value and importance against the club’s top earner, whose poor performances on the pitch and meagre goal return was a source of huge disappointment among the player’s teammates and the club hierarchy.
It led to subsequent new signings being offered wages higher than their market value, and indirectly contributed to midfielder Ander Herrera joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer last summer after failing to agree fresh terms. Contract negotiations with David de Gea were also complicated by the high ceiling created by Sanchez’s contract.
Solskjaer’s fresh approach is backed by Woodward and sources told ESPN the United boss is willing to miss out on targets if it means keeping his existing squad happy. — Rob Dawson