Grading Man Utd’s January transfer business

Grading Man Utd’s January transfer business

After a January transfer window devoid of any new arrivals, Erik ten Hag gently voiced his frustrations.

“I think it’s not a secret that I wanted a striker extra,” Manchester United’s manager revealed. However, the Premier League’s financial regulations restricted the club’s spending scope.

United were not the only thrifty top-flight team – more than half of the division didn’t commit a transfer fee to any player last month. Ten Hag was one of six managers who didn’t receive even a loanee.

However, that’s not to say that United’s window passed without consequence. Here’s a look at the business that the club did get done.

Borussia Dortmund v VfL Bochum 1848 - Bundesliga

Man Utd managed to offload Sancho to Dortmund / Ralf Ibing – firo sportphoto/GettyImages

Jadon Sancho’s temporary return to Borussia Dortmund is a deal that works for all parties concerned.

After getting changed alone in a locked dressing room in United’s academy, Sancho can put on his kit alongside familiar and friendly faces at Dortmund. Within minutes of his second Bundesliga debut, Sancho provided an assist, benefitting from the yawning space behind backlines in Germany which often doesn’t exist in England as much as the improved dressing room environment.

Sancho’s departure also shifts one of the dark clouds hanging over a United squad plagued by off-field indiscretions. Now Ten Hag can focus on batting away questions regarding Marcus Rashford and Antony.

The only downside to the deal is the hefty chunk of Sancho’s salary which United cover, with the Red Devils reportedly contributing a third of the player’s £300,000 weekly wage.

Grade – A-

Donny van de Beek – loaned to Eintracht Frankfurt

Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek never established himself at Man Utd / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Donny van de Beek earned more league starts during his first two weeks at Eintracht Frankfurt (three) than he managed across his previous two-and-a-half years at Manchester United (two).

However, Van de Beek’s third consecutive appearance for the Bundesliga outfit ended at the half-time interval before he was dropped for the trip to relegation-threatened FC Koln.

United managed to get Frankfurt to cover the majority of Van de Beek’s wages and even snuck a buy-option into his six-month loan deal. While a potential sale of £9.4m represents a significant loss on the £40m fee Ajax squeezed out of United in 2020, it’s better than nothing – which will be how much the club receive if Van de Beek is not sold before 2025.

Grade – B

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Stay up to date with the latest Manchester United news / Visionhaus / Getty Images

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Man Utd’s academy graduate Hannibal signed for Sevilla this winter / CRISTINA QUICLER/GettyImages

Hannibal Mejbri made ten appearances for United’s first team this season and was even lauded by Ten Hag for a “perfect” performance against Burnley in September. Yet, he featured for a combined 15 Premier League minutes thereafter.

The energetic midfielder collected two yellow cards before earning his first Sevilla start and the club’s chairman had to quash rumours of a training ground spat with his new teammate Mariano Diaz.

It seems unlikely that the La Liga side will be convinced to exercise the £20m buyout clause – which is probably in Hannibal’s best interest.

Sevilla have endured a wretched few years, an obligatory Europa League triumph notwithstanding. When Hannibal joined the club in mid-January, the Andalusians had won three games across 27 La Liga and Champions League outings, boasting as many victories as managers.

Grade – D

Facundo Pellistri – loan to Granada

Facundo Pellistri

Facundo Pellistri barely played for Man Utd this season / Ryan Hiscott/GettyImages

Ten Hag’s distinct lack of faith in Facundo Pellistri was painfully exposed in September. With Jadon Sancho and Antony unavailable through off-field issues, Pellistri was the only senior right winger in United’s squad for the visit of Brighton. Surely, he would be afforded his first start of the season. Nope.

Instead, Ten Hag deployed a newfangled diamond formation which Brighton mercilessly picked apart. By the time Pellistri trudged on in the final five minutes, the travelling Seagulls support were chanting: “We want four!”

A loan move to Granada should afford Pellistri more playing time but whether it will bump him up United’s hierarchy is far less certain. Pellistri returned to United in 2022 after an 18-month loan spell with Alaves in La Liga. Ten Hag has subsequently given him one Premier League start.

Grade – C

Alvaro Fernandez Carreras

Alvaro Fernandez spent the first half of the season on loan at Granada / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

A Manchester United player since 2020, Alvaro Fernandez is still awaiting his first appearance for the club’s senior side. The Spanish defender was back on the club’s books for two days in January after his loan with Granada was cut short before swiftly being sent out to Portuguese giants Benfica.

Fernandez has swapped the La Liga relegation zone for the top of the Portuguese top flight and will permanently join Benfica for £5.1m if he starts more than half of the club’s matches – a clause that he may well struggle to trigger.

Grade – C+

Sergio Reguilon – loan from Tottenham ended early

Sergio Reguilon

Sergio Reguilon spent six months at Man Utd / Stewart Kendall/Allstar/GettyImages

Sergio Reguilon’s spell at Manchester United was short but not that sweet. The Tottenham Hotspur left-back was brought in as cover for the injury-prone duo of Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia but joined them in the treatment room within a month of his arrival.

Even though United didn’t sign another left-back in January, Ten Hag was content to let Reguilon return to Spurs (before he was shipped out to Brentford on another loan) after just seven starts that were neither calamitous nor eye-catching.

Grade – C

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