Devils tighten their belts

LONDON: Manchester United said on Tuesday the days of huge transfer deals like the £30mil (US$47.3mil) they spent on Rio Ferdinand last year were over. 

Ferdinand became the most expensive defender in the world when United broke the British transfer record to buy him from Leeds United last July. 

Asked if such deals were a thing of the past, chief executive Peter Kenyon told reporters: “From Manchester United’s perspective, yes.” 

He added: “And it is hard to see other clubs that have got the resources we have so it is fair to say that we will see the transfer prices coming down and won’t see those numbers issued, hopefully, for a long time.” 

Kenyon was speaking after United announced reduced first-half profits of £20.3mil for the six months to the end of December. 

A slowdown in the transfer market has hit many clubs across Europe. A lack of buyers has led to more cut-price deals, while loan moves dominated the January transfer window. 

Ferdinand was by no means United’s only big purchase of recent seasons. The club spent £28.1mil on Argentine midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron and £19mil on Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in July 2001. 

In January 2002 the club also bought Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan for £7.5mil and the recent additions to United’s 24-strong first team squad have pushed up the wage bill, which rose by £5.1mil in the six months to end-December. 

United have not made any major sales in the past year but midfielder David Beckham has been linked with top European clubs such as Real Madrid, while winger Ryan Giggs was last month the subject of transfer speculation over a possible move to Inter Milan. 

Kenyon told reporters on Tuesday he had received no formal approach for Beckham. 

Asked whether, with hindsight, United would have spent so much on 24-year-old England defender Ferdinand, Kenyon defended the decision. 

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing – we took the decision at the time and it was the right decision to make and it is still the right decision,” he said. 

“It was a key area of our team that needed supporting, he was the right age profile, we looked at him as a long-term investment flanked with home-grown talent such as Wes Brown and John O’Shea and that gives us a defence position that could last over the next 10 years. 

“We also took that decision in light of our overall wage and transfer targets that we had set ourselves as a business. 

“We don’t see a major change in the market, so we still some issues that would depress values in the summer.” – Reuters 

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