Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has spoken candidly about his transfer plans for 2018 ahead of the January transfer window.
The Portuguese who has spent close to £300m on new players since he joined United suggested a big-money signing is on the cards.
“If, next summer, we are going to sign a midfield player, it’s to replace Michael Carrick and Michael is a phenomenal player that, this season, he couldn’t give us anything at all,” said the manager. “He’s in the end of his career so if, next summer, we buy a midfield player, it’s not to improve our squad – it’s to replace Michael Carrick. So, to improve our squad in the midfield, we would need to buy two.”
The inflated market means it will be difficult to persuade clubs to sell for realistic prices but Mourinho believes patience and time is required to combat the hyper-spending of the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
“I have the backing of the club and the first backing of the club I had was a three-year contract where everybody knows the job was not easy,” he said. “And we all know that we invest a lot, so when you invest as much as we did, it wouldn’t be very fair for me to say the club didn’t support, the club didn’t want to help. It would be very unfair, which is not me.
“The club invested a lot of money. The problem is not the money we invest, the problem is the money the others invest and it is the problem that others with better squads, with better stability, with more options, they keep investing and that’s the only problem because, for example, we bought a striker in the summer – a very good striker [Romelu Lukaku] – but that good striker was to replace Zlatan [Ibrahimovic].
It was not to be him and Zlatan in the best of their form from day one. We signed [Victor] Lindelof. We didn’t have Marcos Rojo [at the start of the season]. We had problems, so when we are signing players in the last two years, it’s to replace people.
“You think the club can put here now £600million and let’s buy six players of £100million? The club cannot do that. I cannot expect the club to do that, so it’s not critical and you can see how the market is, especially with the top teams.
But, you know, without taking any credit away from Manchester City and Pep [Guardiola] and his staff and the players, they obviously have lots of credit in what they are doing. But Pep arrives, he has the goalkeeper of England [Joe Hart], he doesn’t like him so he buys the goalkeeper of Barcelona [Claudio Bravo], he doesn’t like him so he buys another one [Ederson]. Now he likes.
“He has [Pablo] Zabaleta and [Aleksandar] Kolarov – two very good players but more than 30 years old. He wants to replace, he doesn’t replace with two, he replaces with three. One from Tottenham [Kyle Walker], one from Monaco [Benjamin Mendy] and one from Real Madrid [Danilo] as an example. Can we buy six or seven players at the same time? Can we invest £600-700million? No.
So, it’s difficult. I think the last years, the market is going in such a direction or you belong to one of these clubs where there is no limit and you just buy what you want and there is no limit, there is no financial fair play, there is nothing, you do what you want – or it’s hard.
“Is it possible [to compete]? Yes, it’s possible and sometimes if you don’t have that financial – I don’t say potential because potentially we have that, as a club, but not that profile of club where there are no limits and the only thing that matters is to get the best. Even with that, there is only one way which is patience and calm and time.
“I think, next season, we are going to get two or three more players,” he predicted. “We are going to lose also two or three.
If you can try to anticipate, you can more or less see that it’s normal that this is going to happen. It’s not going to happen – a dramatic change and a dramatic improvement – but in time, step by step, with some balance, we have to do it.
“But I think this was the feeling that, for example, Jurgen [Klopp] had when he arrived at Liverpool where he trusted a lot his quality as a good coach that he is.
He trusted his work a lot, he told a few words and I think now he realises that it’s not enough to be champions, to win the Champions League, to win trophies.
“He needs more, so now you can see Liverpool with Naby Keita that they have already done for the next summer, with Virgil van Dijk now, a player who can also play in the Champions League, now they realise they have to go to the same levels of the crazy market because if they offer £40 million, Southampton won’t sell the player. It’s as simple as that, so that’s the reality.
“You have to believe in the work and in the time and don’t stop to invest. But some clubs invest with limits and some clubs they invest with a little bit more balance than others that go absolutely strong in the market.
What Paris Saint-Germain did this season with Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe – they get two of probably the four best attacking players in the world. They get two at the same time and then players like [Angel] Di Maria, [Julian] Draxler, [Javier] Pastore, Lucas [Moura], they are second choices.
“So money makes a difference and I remember my times from my first Chelsea period where everybody was saying that the money was making a difference, so I don’t think it changes. I think money makes a difference but I also ask never to misinterpret my words against my club or say that my club doesn’t support, my club doesn’t want to spend because my club spends.
“My club, two years ago, paid a lot of money for Paul [Pogba]. Last year, they paid a lot of money for Lukaku and I’m sure, next year, they are also going to pay a lot of money for one player. But we are doing these things with some balance because it’s the profile of the club. We do it with some balance.”