Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is facing his first standoff with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward after being told he will not be allowed to sign another player until the wage bill is trimmed.
The Portuguese manager has enjoyed the fruits of Woodward's labour this summer with Manchester United's huge commercial revenue funding no less than four major signings. Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba have arrived for a combined fee of approximately £150million while they have also added three-quarters of a million pounds to the weekly wage bill.
But despite seeing his new club breaking the world transfer record, Mourinho is still not completely satisfied with his senior squad. Having seen the like of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo fail to impress in training, the former Chelsea manager wanted another experienced centre-back to sure up a frail-looking backline.
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He pinpointed Southampton's Jose Fonte as a potential signing. The 32-year-old has a wealth of experience in the Premier League and showed some of his best form during Portugal's triumphant Euro 2016 campaign in France.
However, according to The Sun, Woodward has blocked Mourinho's attempts to sign his compatriot because he has so far failed to get rid of some high-earning stars that he does not require. Rojo, as previously mentioned, is on that list and is joined by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is on an eye-watering £200,000-a-week.
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Unsurprisingly, United have found it difficult to find clubs willing to take these players off of their hands.
But until they do, a deal for Fonte appears to be off the table. Southampton are reportedly willing to sell for around £12m but are also trying to take advantage of United's hesitation by offering him a new contract.
Clearing the deadwood
AS Monaco are interested in Rojo but have made it clear to United that they will not cover his current wages. Schweinsteiger has £17m outstanding on a three-year contract he signed last summer and few would blame the veteran midfielder for sitting it out in the reserves.
If he fails to find a new club there is a suggestion that United may try to negotiate a termination of his contract, but such a move would cost the Premier League clubs millions in compensation.
Mourinho has also been linked with a move for a new right-back with Monaco's Fabinho on the radar. Matteo Darmian would have to leave to make room in the squad but at 26-years-old and on a comparatively reasonable wage, a move back to Serie A seems viable.