Belfast Telegraph

Ole: we still have muscle to compete in market for big names


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Ian Parker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United retain the power to compete with the best in the transfer market amid warnings their status as England's richest club is "at risk".

According to Deloitte's Football Money League, United's revenue of £627.1m for 2018-19 put them third overall behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But the accountancy firm warned United could soon find themselves slipping behind the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City due to their failure to qualify for the Champions League.

However, Solskjaer offered a robust defence of the club's status.

"The most important thing for me is we get the results sorted and the performances on the pitch," he said. "But I know that we've got the resources, we've got the backing. If we need to go into the market we are still up there, so we're in a good place."

United are reportedly in talks over a deal for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes which could cost as much as £70m, though Solskjaer offered no update on that or any other moves in the January market.

"I've got no transfer updates," he said. "If we get something we can tell you about, we will, but we've got no news now."

Solskjaer was speaking ahead of tonight's FA Cup third round replay at home to Wolves.

The match could offer another opportunity to 18-year-old striker Mason Greenwood, who started in the goalless draw at Molineux on January 4.

Greenwood has enjoyed a hugely impressive season to date, scoring nine goals for United's senior side in 26 appearances and bagging his first goal for the England Under-21s, but Solskjaer cautioned against the national side taking him to Euro 2020 amid concerns over the availability of the injured Harry Kane.

"I think Mason will have a top career, a long career, but let the boy settle in now before we talk about England and the Euros," he said. "His focus has to be playing for us and improving. When he plays well for us, that will happen by itself."

Solskjaer is trying to carefully manage the demands on his younger players, and his squad as a whole, as they prepare for their 14th game in 46 days.

"It is physically and mentally demanding and we've got to make sure we energise them with results," he said.

"After a performance like Norwich (a 4-0 win), they all felt good about that and used that as motivation. We're not there yet, we've got to keep working and improving, just keep the rhythm. I didn't play in all these games when I was playing but I felt like, as a team, we improved when we got in a rhythm of match, rest, match, rest.

"The likes of Roy (Keane), Gary (Neville), (Paul) 'Scholesy', they only seemed to improve, and we need to get to that."

With United well off the pace in the Premier League and needing to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit to rivals Manchester City in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, Solskjaer is looking to the FA Cup as the most realistic prospect of silverware.

"This tournament is one that we all dream about winning when we're young," he said.

"I loved my time in the finals and lifting the trophy, so we want to go through."

Boss Nuno Espirito Santo, meanwhile, remains confident Wolves will land his transfer targets to boost their thin squad.

The club are chasing a defender and a striker this month.

Real Madrid defender Jesus Vallejo remains at Molineux but is expected to move on loan elsewhere once he finds a new club, while forward Patrick Cutrone joined Fiorentina last week.

"I'm confident, I don't think on 'ifs'," he said. "It's very difficult for all clubs. It's a transfer window which isn't the best one.

"Many players are involved in their teams. Sometimes you want a target and they are not available because they are playing. Sometimes you want things to move faster. It's a tough moment but we're working on it."

Tonight's game is Wolves' 38th of the season after starting their campaign in the Europa League qualifiers in July.

Nuno is proud of his players, and added: "It's about the way they prepare themselves on a daily basis with the way they recover and compete, credit to all the players."

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