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Saha: Man Utd have had to pay over the odds for players due to failures on the pitch

5:36 AM MYT 09/08/2019
Harry Maguire Aaron Wan-Bissaka
The Frenchman thinks the inability to challenge for the title has meant other clubs have been able to demand more money for their players

Former Manchester United forward Louis Saha says the club are having to pay huge fees for players due to their recent failures on the pitch.

United had a frustrating end to the summer transfer window as moves for players like Paulo Dybala, Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes failed to materialise.

The world-record fee paid for a defender they forked out for Harry Maguire, however, plus the earlier outlay on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, meant United still spent big. They made €80 million (£74m/$90m) back through the deadline-day sale of Romelu Lukaku to Inter , but Saha thinks their new signings could have been available for less.

“Manchester United are paying over the odds for players because teams know that United are desperate to strengthen our defence,” the Frenchman told Bwin .

“The defenders that have been brought in are top quality, but I think their price tag would have been lower had they gone to a team that wasn’t in the same position as United.

“Players such as [Ashley] Young have done a tremendous job in defence, but United have had too many makeshift defenders over the past few seasons and they needed to address the situation.

“The market has changed rapidly over the last decade and defenders won’t be let go for the prices that they used to. If United want to reach the top again, then the starting eleven needs to be strong from defence to attack. They’re not going to compete by just having a strong midfield and attack.”

While United’s defence is unquestionably stronger than before the summer window, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is left with fewer options up front following the sale of Lukaku.

Plans to replace him with Dybala or Mario Mandzukic never came through , as uncertainty around the club’s future and a lack of Champions League football in the present hampered their attempts to sign a premium forward.

But for Saha, this is simply the new reality that United fans have to get used to.

“United aren’t in the best position to tempt players like Dybala to the club,” he said. “He’s playing in a league-winning side with players like [Cristiano] Ronaldo, which is hard to compete with.

“He’s not a guaranteed starter for Juventus or Argentina, which is crazy for a player of his ability. I can see why he would be looking to sign for a team where he can play in a confident squad and in the Champions League.

“United can’t currently offer the stability and consistency that some players are looking for when they sign for a new club.

“Solskjaer is at the very beginning of his tenure and United aren’t competing with the likes of City and Liverpool, which is painful to admit, so they don’t hold the attraction they once did.”