Manchester United are planning to focus on emerging youngsters and players in their mid-twenties in future transfer windows, sources have said, with moves for older stars such as Alexis Sanchez and Nemanja Matic only to be considered in exceptional circumstances.
United expect to embark on this summer’s transfer window with a permanent manager — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains the only serious candidate for the job — working in tandem with a yet-to-be-appointed technical director, who will report to Old Trafford executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
But although the technical director role is still to be filled, Woodward and Solskjaer have discussed the requirements for squad rebuilding, with the caretaker manager having already been involved in the sale of Marouane Fellaini in January.
And sources have said that a key factor in United’s transfer business going forward will be the determination to create a young, hungry squad of players with the best years of their careers in front of them rather than having already peaked elsewhere.
The policy is a return to that overseen by Sir Alex Ferguson and former chief executive David Gill during the 2000s and early part of this decade, when the club would only pay transfer fees for outfield players aged 27 and under until making an exception to the rule when paying £24m to sign Robin van Persie from Arsenal, then 29.
Since Ferguson’s departure, United have committed to paying huge fees and/or wages when signing Sanchez (29 at the time), Matic (29), Bastian Schweinsteiger (30) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (34).
Woodward took the first steps towards ending that approach last summer when United chose not to pursue Jose Mourinho’s interest in Chelsea midfielder Willian, 30, and 29-year-old Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld.
For the same reason, United will not be in the market to sign Gareth Bale if the Real Madrid winger becomes available this summer.
Alderweireld could become a renewed target this summer due to a clause in his Spurs contract which allows him to leave for a knock-down £25 million prior to the final two weeks of the transfer window, but United have little desire to invest huge sums on players approaching the final years of their careers.
Solskjaer has already impressed the United hierarchy by handing opportunities to emerging talent such as Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood, as well making Marcus Rashford a key figure of the team following his failure to earn a regular starting spot under Jose Mourinho.
But with Solskjaer set to be confirmed as permanent manager before the end of the season and a technical director also due to be appointed, sources have said that United are determined to succeed with a more strategic approach to the transfer market.