48 hours. That's how much time it took for Manchester United to complete a deal for Donny Van de Beek from Ajax worth around €45m including add-ons. In negotiations that have been indescribable, as per Mike Verweij of De Telegraaf, Man United have managed to sign one of the very best young midfielders in Europe who was also a subject of interest from other top teams in La Liga and the Premier League.
- @MikeVerweij: “All of a sudden, other top clubs from the Premier League & La Liga became keen on trying to sign Donny, so Man United decided to move their appointments forward and act quickly. The last 24 hours of this transfer are indescribable." pic.twitter.com/Rz3YZdG9ux— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) August 30, 2020
For United, who spent close to £125m on deals from within the Premier League for Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka last summer, the €45m capture of Van de Beek represents a major coup and a potential shift in transfer strategy to get the best deals for premium talent from across Europe.
What does such a shift mean for prospective transfer business at United?
Transfers so far under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The first proper summer transfer window under the current United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer witnessed three deals all from within the UK - A £15m deal for Welsh winger Daniel James from Swansea City, followed by the arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace for £45m and the record £80m deal for Harry Maguire from Leicester City.
A general trend amongst transfers from within the Premier League is the increased premium on transfer fees compared to transfers of similar magnitudes from other leagues in Europe. In line with this trend, it makes sense for Premier League clubs to pursue deals from other leagues in Europe in case the transfer fee premium is way over the top for targets within the Premier League. This is clearly highlighted by United's transfer of the season in January in the form of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP who after his stellar performances in the 2019/20 season looks like a relative bargain at the £49.5m (as per Transfermarkt) United paid for him.
With a gradual shift in transfer strategy towards pursuing better value deals for effective players across major European leagues, United have found excellent deals starting with Bruno Fernandes and followed the recent arrival of Donny van de Beek. Deals from across Europe beyond the Premier League give United more flexibility with respect to staggered payments of the transfer fee over multiple instalments and slightly more negotiating power as compared to deals within England's top flight.
Trends for transfers going forward
The shift in terms of transfers is certainly a positive one and could have a great influence on how United pursue deals going forward. It could give them more options in target positions and also strengthen their negotiation stance while pursuing deals from within the Premier League.
United's desire to get Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford is something that's an open secret now. And beyond that blockbuster deal, United also intend to strengthen their backline with a centre-back being targeted this window. Another interesting bit in line with the shift in transfer strategy seems to be United's interest in Real Madrid left-back, Sergio Reguilon who could potentially be on the move this summer, as per AS (h/t SportWitness).
Given the current scenario at United, the ideal transfer window expectation would be a move for Sancho followed by a centre-back, although a move for Reguilon to bolster the full-back positions seems really tempting.
Although Ed Woodward and Matt Judge alongside manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserve some real praise for the smooth manner in which the deal for Donny Van de Beek was concluded, the general belief and expectations are that this move is just the start of the jigsaw and the beginning of something really special at The Theatre of Dreams. And, it's time the United hierarchy deliver on these expectations.