Ed Woodward responds to claims he vetoed Manchester United transfer ‘for commercial reasons’

Then manager Jose Mourinho had lined up the deal (Picture: Getty Images)

Jose Mourinho was allegedly blocked from signing one of his top targets while Manchester United manager ‘for commercial reasons’, though Ed Woodward has denied the claims.

It is over a decade since the Red Devils last lifted the Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson and that long barren run has often been blamed on a lack of investment from the Glazer family.

Fans are hoping that will change with Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority investment, particularly after a pointed comment saying he wants to ‘bring sporting success on the pitch to complement the undoubted commercial success that the club has enjoyed’.

That has not always been the case at Old Trafford, however, particularly during Woodward’s time as CEO.

A report from ESPN now claims the former United chief executive actually prevented ex-boss Mourinho from signing a player in 2017, with the reason given being that he ‘wasn’t commercially viable’.

The player in question was then Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic, who had just enjoyed an excellent campaign in which he scored 11 goals and laid on eight assists in Serie A.

He would follow that up with another 20 goal involvements in the subsequent campaign and later helped the side win the Scudetto in the 2020-21 campaign after also winning the treble with Bayern Munich during a season out on loan.

Mourinho wanted to bring Perisic to United in 2017 (Picture: Getty)

‘Mourinho wanted to sign Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan in 2017 but was told by Ed that, as a player, he wasn’t commercially viable,’ an ex United player told ESPN.

Woodward, though, has denied he ever vetoed a transfer on commercial grounds, saying: ‘That was never a consideration.’

The former player also claims that Mourinho pushed for Anthony Martial to be sold because he did not feel he was good enough or reliable enough, but that was again vetoed – this time by the Glazers, with Joel said to be a big fan of Martial.

It must be said that Mourinho was backed significantly in the summer of 2017, signing Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He clearly still felt the side needed another attacking option up top, however, and brought in Alexis Sanchez in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the January window, with United going on to finish second in the Premier League – an achievement Mourinho ranks as one of his best.

There was less backing the following summer, with Diogo Dalot, Fred and back-up keeper Lee Grant the only additions, and Mourinho was sacked in December 2018.

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