Sources: United struggle to offload high earners

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Manchester United‘s hopes of raising extra transfer funds are being hampered by the high wages of fringe players, sources have told ESPN.

United’s financial clout this summer has been restricted by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and so far manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has only been able to add £40 million midfielder Donny van de Beek to his squad.

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Solskjaer and the executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward are willing to listen to offers for Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Andreas Pereira and Sergio Romero to boost the transfer kitty but so far, interested clubs have been put off by the wages they are on at Old Trafford.

Sources have told ESPN that players will likely need to accept pay cuts to secure moves away or negotiate a pay-off with United to compensate for time left on their contracts.

Jones, who made just two Premier League appearances last season, signed an extension in February 2019 and still has three years — plus a 12-month option — on his deal.

The defender has attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs but United are yet to receive a firm offer.

Smalling is wanted back at Roma after an impressive loan spell but the Serie A side are reluctant to match his United wage. The 30-year-old, who has returned to training at Carrington ahead of the new season, has two years and an option on his contract at Old Trafford.

Romero is being monitored by Aston Villa, Everton and Leeds United after Solskjaer decided to bring back Dean Henderson following his impressive loan spell at Sheffield United, while Benfica and Valencia are among the clubs keen on Pereira. Rojo, who joined Estudiantes on loan in January, has been the subject of interest from Boca Juniors.

Both Smalling and Rojo have been told there is a chance to secure a spot in Solskjaer’s squad for the new season after the search for a new centre-back — preferably left-footed — stalled.

Sources have told ESPN that Rojo in particular has impressed Solskjaer after undertaking double training sessions every day since returning to Manchester from Argentina.

Sources have also told ESPN that United’s priority before the Oct. 5 transfer deadline is still to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

Dortmund, however, have refused to budge from their €120m valuation — a price tag United believe is “unreasonable” — while wages and agent fees are also a sticking point.