Jose Mourinho says he will not chase “impossible targets” and allow Manchester United to be used as a pawn by players and agents this summer.
The winter transfer window may have only shut on Tuesday night but the Portuguese has already made his targets for post-season improvements clear to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann is said to be chief among them and Mourinho will not allow United to stray into the fanciful given the way some have used such interest to better their own situations in recent years.
“I think what we need I am very realistic (about),” the United manager said. “I know what the impossible targets are. I don’t like my club to participate in impossible deals. It is a waste of time, it is a gift to these impossible players and to their agents to have a club like Manchester United interested in them.
“It just helps them to improve their situation, but it does not help us at all so I am very realistic, I am very objective.
“My board knows what I think our needs are and from now until the summer, I just focus on my players, our competitions, my club, our fans and try to get the possible results.”
United could certainly do with a player like Griezmann right now given their struggles to translate attacking impetus into goals. Their 33-goal haul in the league is 12 less than any other top-six side and their lack of bite has cost them numerous wins, with no other side drawing more matches than United’s nine.
Mourinho called for his attacking players to weigh in with more goals ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Leicester, with 10 strikes separating Zlatan Ibrahimovic and their second top Premier League scorer.
“I think we attack so much and with so many players, and so many players have the freedom in our dynamic to reach scoring positions,” he said. “I have to agree with you that we don’t score enough goals and some of our players from these attacking, creative positions they could — they should — score more goals.
“When you see the number of goals we score, there is not a true relation between our attacking production and the number of players we put always in attacking positions and the number of goals we score.”
Meanwhile Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri believes wantaway striker Leonardo Ulloa will back down over his strike threat. The forward handed in a transfer request last month to try to force a move from the King Power Stadium.
On Monday he also tweeted saying that he would not play for the club again because he felt “betrayed” by Ranieri.
Ulloa, 30, has been frustrated having started just once in the top flight this season. He is currently out with a thigh injury, meaning he will miss the visit of United, but Ranieri expects the Argentinian will play for the club again once he is fit.
“Why not? He’ll play, he’s a professional 100%, don’t worry,” Ranieri said.
“Of course he is frustrated because he wanted to play and go but he is a fantastic man, a good player but he is also a good professional player. Sooner or later when he is ready he will have the chance to play.
“I know he tried to say everything and wanted to push hard (to go) but it’s OK.”
Islam Slimani is out with a groin injury with Leicester just two points above the relegation zone and they could drop into the bottom three if results go against them this weekend.
And Ranieri urged his team, who are yet to score a league goal in 2017, to keep battling following Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat at Burnley, where Sam Vokes appeared to handle before scoring a late winner.
He added: “They have to fight for Leicester, not for me. Everybody is fighting, we lost in the 87th minute and you know how we lost but we fight until the end.
“The pressure is split to everybody. All my players want to win. Then the pressure is on the manager, always, but it’s not my first year as a manager.”
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