The eye-watering cost of Manchester United’s move for Alexis Sanchez was underlined on Thursday as Ed Woodward claimed Jose Mourinho and the players were “fully united” in their bid to arrest the club’s dismal start to the season.
United’s latest quarterly accounts showed that the wage bill had jumped more than 10 per cent owing predominantly to Sanchez’s enormous salary.
Sanchez arrived from Arsenal in January on a deal worth £350,000 a week, rising to £500,000 a week with bonuses and image rights, and the impact of the costs was reflected in a 10.2 per cent hike in the wage bill to £77 million for the three months to Sept 30 this year.
United handed a new contract to midfielder Marouane Fellaini and signed Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant in that time, even if some of that expenditure was offset by the departures of Daley Blind and Sam Johnstone, but Sanchez’s capture is the main factor behind the huge rise in wages.
United have seen little for their return, though, and Sanchez is said to be looking for an exit route from Old Trafford only 10 months into his four-year contract. The Chile striker was dropped for United’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday, which left the club languishing in eighth, 12 points adrift of the Premier League leaders, and is reported to be cutting a lonely, isolated figure in Manchester.
There were reports from Chile that Sanchez spent 30 minutes alone while his international team-mates played a game of “tennis-football” but those close to the camp suggested this was not unusual and that it is not uncommon for him to cut a detached figure, even if he did look gloomier than normal.
Sanchez is just one of numerous United players struggling for form and whose relationship with Mourinho has been questioned, but Woodward believes all parties are working together to try to get their season back on track.
Speaking on an investor call, the United executive vice-chairman said: “On the pitch, we remain well positioned in the Champions League, and although we’ve had a mixed start to our domestic campaign, the squad and manager are fully united in their determination to regain our momentum in the Premier League.”
United’s revenues for the quarter fell 6.1 per cent to £135 million on the previous year, although this was mainly put down to a decrease in sponsorship and match-day income as a result of a “smaller summer tour” of the US and playing two fewer home games than at this stage last season.