Football

Ed Woodward: There will be funds for United summer rebuild

Woodward wants Red Devils to be able to regularly compete for major titles

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said this summer's transfer window is an "important opportunity" for the club to build a squad capable of challenging for the English Premier League and Champions League.

United, who last won the league in the 2012-13 season, are currently eighth after 25 matches, six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the final Champions League qualification spot.

The club added one permanent signing in last month's transfer window in midfielder Bruno Fernandes, but Woodward said more funds would be available to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the end of the season.

"Our recruitment process focuses on analysis and selection of players over the course of a season, with a view to the following summer transfer window," Woodward, 48, said at a recent fans forum at Old Trafford.

"As part of the rebuild, we see this coming summer as an important opportunity. It is the overwhelming priority of everyone at the club to get us back to regularly challenging for EPL and Champions League titles."

United's transfer activity has come under attack in recent years, but Woodward defended the club's recruitment strategy.

"There has been extensive work on our recruitment process, with considerable investment in scouting, data and analytics," he said.

"Our focus is on bringing in a combination of experience and the best young players with potential to develop further, fusing graduates from our academy with high-quality acquisitions."

Alexis Sanchez, however, is not expected to be part of the rebuilding process, according to Manchester Evening News.

The publication reported on Monday that United are looking for potential buyers to offload the Chilean, despite Solskjaer suggesting that Sanchez would return from his season-long loan with Inter Milan.

SHORT FIX

The 31-year-old, whose contract expires in 2022, has played the full 90 minutes for United only once last season.

Another player who is not in United's long-term plans, but a necessary short fix is Odion Ighalo.

The Nigerian striker completed a surprise loan switch from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua on transfer-deadline day, and Solskjaer expects Ighalo to feature against Chelsea.

United are currently in Marbella, Spain, for their warm-weather training camp and will take on the Blues at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday morning (Singapore time).

"He is going to travel with us (for the Chelsea game)," said Solskjaer of Ighalo, who has remained in Manchester to work on his fitness.

"We will just see his fitness work this week and we will get him sharp. We want to integrate him as quickly as we can because, of course, he is desperate to play for us."

The Norwegian is also expecting the return of defender Axel Tuanzebe, and midfielders Scott McTominay and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

"I hope that we will see some of them before the end of this week but, next week, will be a big week for them as well to get them match fit," he said.

"So, hopefully, we can get them back on the pitch with their kit on soon."

Football