Jose Mourinho is coming to terms with the fact that three signings may have to suffice in a congested summer transfer window.
The Portuguese manager initially targeted four arrivals as he looked to bulk up his squad for a return to Champions League football and to try to revive Manchester United‘s title credentials. After Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof, however, he says there may be just one more player unveiled at United.
“We are not a club that is ready to pay what the clubs want,” Mourinho told BBC Sport’s Simon Stone of what he described as a “difficult” transfer window.
“I’m used to clubs paying big for big players. Now everybody pays big money for good players.”
After overseeing two transfers in the close season worth a total £106 million, the position Mourinho’s most likely to strengthen is defensive midfield. Michael Carrick, the criminally underrated metronome of the boss’ designs, continues to be an option there, and his worth at United was rewarded with a one-year contract extension and the captain’s armband this summer. But at 35, he doesn’t represent the future at Old Trafford, and the Red Devils are heavily linked with Mourinho’s old Chelsea pupil Nemanja Matic.
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While Mourinho is more than happy to pluck talent from the Blues, he may bemoan letting a certain striker slip through his fingertips and into the clutches of his old employer.
The 54-year-old admitted it was “a shame” that United couldn’t agree a fee to bring Alvaro Morata to Lancashire from Real Madrid, allowing Chelsea to steal in and broker a deal reportedly worth £58 million plus add-ons.
Alluding to Chelsea gaffer Antonio Conte telling his previous first-choice striker he wasn’t wanted, Mourinho added: “It was obvious they were going to sign a striker after the situation with the manager and Diego (Costa).”
Mourinho was speaking before Thursday night’s first-ever Manchester derby to be held outside of England. The Red Devils handler dismissively branded the meeting with City a “training session,” but the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas is expected to be packed.