Manchester United confident of landing transfer targets without Champions League football

Manchester United remain convinced they can attract their top targets to Old Trafford in the summer even if they miss out on a place in the Premier League top four, sources have told ESPN.

Back-to-back wins over Brighton and Leeds United have moved Ralf Rangnick’s side into the Champions League places, although Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers are within seven points and all have games in hand.

Sources have told ESPN that United are prepared to spend in the summer regardless of whether they qualify for the Champions League.

Targets like Declan Rice and Harry Kane have made it clear they want to play in Europe’s top club competition but United believe they are still in a position to pull off marquee signings even if they miss out on a place in the top four this season.

Sources at United point to their capture of Paul Pogba for a world record fee of £89.3 million in 2016, ahead of a season in the Europa League, as evidence that they would not have to change their transfer plans depending on whether or not they secure Champions League football.

United, who face Atletico Madrid in the their Champions League round-of-16 first leg in Spain on Wednesday, have started the process of appointing their next permanent manager and the club are keen to back the new man during his first summer in charge. There is hope that progress will be sufficiently quick that the preferred candidate will have an input into which players arrive.

Managers at Old Trafford are given a veto on new signings along with the recruitment department and they hope negotiations with the new manager will be far enough down the line for him to use it.

United are keen for the transition under the new manager to be as smooth as possible, ideally with an announcement made well before the start of the preseason tour. Talks are underway about taking part in summer friendlies in Asia although plans are subject to COVID restrictions.

Sources have told ESPN that the new manager will also have an input into the futures of a number of key players who are nearing the end of their contracts.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, David De Gea and Fred have deals until 2023 with the option of another year.