The Manchester United sale process reached a high point when, with a week to go before March 22, the date announced as the deadline for presenting the final offers, the lawyers representing the six Glazer brothers, the American owners of the club , they suddenly raised the price from 6,000 to 7,000 million euros.
The record sale of a sports institution has been shared since 2022 by the Denver Broncos and Chelsea, in the environment of 4,700 million. According to people close to the negotiation who spoke on condition of anonymity, the price change stunned the intermediaries of Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, president of the Islamic Bank of Qatar (BIQ), who had hinted in informal conversations that he was willing to pay the 6,000 million that the Glazers were asking for. The main condition that the BIQ imposed to reach that figure was that the Manchester club qualify for the Champions League. Until May 28, the end of the season, United, fourth in the Premier, will compete for two Champions League places with Liverpool and Newcastle.
The discomfort with the rise of 1,000 million was so great that the Arabs cooled the negotiation. Since then, contacts between the parties have continued in a growing climate of tension. The Qataris complain of a lack of courtesy, beginning with the tardiness with which their counterparts attend meetings. Meanwhile, United engineer the biggest market assault in football history. Sources that advise the Glazers indicate that it changes or does not change ownership, the most valued sports institution in the Anglo-Saxon world is preparing to invest a minimum of 500 million in signing players this summer. United have informed the Qataris of the plan. “United gave us the list of players they wanted to sign,” explains a member of the team of coaches who accompany Sheikh Jassim; “And after an hour of analysis we did not object.”
United is not just for sale. After ten years of hibernation, he is willing to lead the purchases. Glazer advisers, who form a body that flies over the coach, Erik ten-Hag, believe that the team needs to be reinforced with five players for four positions. First, a striker, who they intend to cover with Harry Kane, Dusan Vlahovic or Victor Osimhen; second, a midfielder, for whom they are chasing Frenkie de Jong, Aderien Rabiot or Alexis Mac Allister; third, a left winger, where they bet on Kvaratskhelia or Kingsley Coman; and fourth, two central defenders, Ronald Araujo, and Kim min-Jae. They intend to sign Araujo free if Barça continues without registering his contract, and for Kim they offer 100 million, although he says he has a release clause of 45 million applicable only in July. United, according to an intermediary involved, has already transferred its interest to all these players.
The list only includes players from the top-5 in each position. Advised by their council, the Glazers refuse to include middle-class players. They argue that investments in developing footballers are never recovered as easily as star signings such as Paul Pogba, a man who, even in his worst seasons, attracted offers of more than 80 million. The almost 90 million that they paid for Martial or Maguire, for example, are lost money, the sources say. Ten Hag, the coach, objected to this policy if to sign stars you have to wait for the preseason to start. He says that he knows players without so much cache that they can serve. But Sheikh Jassim’s envoys agreed and approved the 500 million euro credit that the Glazers have signed with Bank of America, and which they intend to allocate to hiring in 2023.
The wave of liquidity is imminent. People who work for Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain warn that if BIQ buys United, they will inject another 300 million to sign. But the technicians who advise BIQ indicate that if the club does not qualify for the Champions League, it is not worth more than 5,000 million. They argue that in addition to the flood of sponsorships that the Champions League represents, the presence in the highest category of European football deflates prices and increases the quality of transfers since all players are more favorable to joining the project. Being in the Champions League means getting into a savings circle while facilitating the arrival of better players and shortening the terms of the competitive development of the teams by years.
West Ham, Qatari alternative
The Glazers, capitalists focused on real estate and oil investments in the United States, assure that they are handling another offer of 5,700 million euros from Jim Ratcliffe, the owner of the chemical company Ineos. From the Qatari side they suspect that Ratcliffe, a partner of the Glazers, acts as a mere “decoy” to inflate the operation. He bluffs, they say. Sources close to the Glazers note that the British government has reached out to their bosses that they would prefer Ratcliffe. For political reasons, they explain, it would be difficult for the Government to assume that the most powerful institution in English sport, a club whose fundamental source of wealth derives from the control of 70% of the Asian market, falls into the hands of a State that is not an example of progressivism. . The Glazers are unfazed. They insist that they will sell, if they do, to the highest bidder.
The negotiations are still alive. But the outcome is cloudy. From the Glazer headquarters, a consultant observes that his clients want to sell but not at any price, and they warn that the purchase of Chelsea, “a neighborhood club”, for 4,700 million a year ago, forces them to reconsider upwards United’s value. Inflation has skyrocketed. Prince Jassim’s envoys report increasingly unpleasant reports of tacky behavior on the part of the United States. “The Qataris are very proud,” says an expert who works for PSG; “If they suspect that their offer will be rejected, they will not risk feeling humiliated.” The BIQ begins to assess other entry options in the Premier. His first alternative is to buy West Ham, together with Tottenham, the club with the most fans in London. Based in the West End’s 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium, West Ham guarantees a full house every weekend.
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