Manchester United to tone down spending

Ed Woodward has promised to keep improving Manchester United’s squad, although the executive vice-chairman has said this summer’s transfer window will not see the same “churn” of players.

United have splurged vast amounts on new players since Alex Ferguson’s retirement, including last summer’s world-record acquisition of Paul Pogba after deals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly.

Those signings led to a 14.2% rise in the wage bill over the prior year quarter, as shown in United’s financial results for the quarter ending December 31, 2016, and costs could increase further if the likes of Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann arrive at the end of the season.

Yesterday, Woodward pledged to again back manager Jose Mourinho in the transfer market, but told investors United’s squad will be more steady than recent years. “Are we happy with the roster at this point? Yes, I think there’s a happiness from the manager at this point, as you can tell in all his recent interviews in terms of where we are as a squad,” Woodward said.

“I think even if you win everything, you still want to improve the squad — that’s the nature of the dynamic industry that we’re in.

“But I think we aren’t necessarily in a position where we have to churn a large number of players.

“I think I’ve guided before that we want to get to a more steady state and be buying and potentially selling a lower number of players each year.

“I think we’re in that kind of environment now compared to where we were two, three years ago, when perhaps there was a little more churn required from the playing squad perspective.”

Meanwhile, David De Gea says he is “very happy” and focused at United amid renewed speculation over a summer move to Real Madrid.

The 26-year-old goalkeeper has shone in the post-Ferguson era, winning the club’s player of the year award for the past three seasons.

Such form has led to admiring glances from Real Madrid, who he was on the brink of joining in 2015 only for the transfer to collapse in acrimony.

De Gea subsequently signed a deal keeping him at Old Trafford until at least 2019.

Real’s interest is said to be heating up again, but the player would not be drawn on the subject.

“The future, no-one knows,” De Gea said. “The future is the future.

“I’m very happy here — it’s a great club.”

Asked about the potential of a summer move to Real, he said: “I will not talk about that. I will not talk about it any more. Now we need to stay focused with my club.”

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