Man Utd and Liverpool – Top four needed to maximise takeover value

Fenway Sports Group ‘fully committed’ to Liverpool amid report of club for sale

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Manchester United and Liverpool should still spend in January to give themselves a better chance of Champions League qualification according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire, despite both clubs facing the prospect of a takeover. The Glazers and Fenway Sports Group (FSG) are both considering financial alternatives for their assets, with qualification for Europe’s premier competition the best way to maintain their market value. 

Last month, the owners of Manchester United and Liverpool announced that they would be considering alternative shareholding models as they contemplate selling up. The FSG appear more likely to sell off a small portion of their stake in the club while the Glazers are believed to be more strongly considering the possibility of a full sale. 

The developments had led to speculation that both clubs could be subdued in the transfer market despite underwhelming on-field performances this season. However, football finance guru Maguire has suggested that this may not be the case with both clubs requiring Champions League qualification to maximise their value. 

“I think there are two ways of looking at it,” Maguire exclusively told Express Sport. “There’s the case of saying, if you’re selling a house, the last thing you do before you leave is install a new bathroom. On that basis, you would say that there’s not a huge incentive to speculate in terms of spending. 

“However, if there is a specific issue that needs addressing, I think both FSG and the Glazers would be inclined to deal with it. Both sets of owners will want to maximise the sales value of the club by leaving it in as good a position as possible and that means qualifying for the Champions League next season. 

“It could be that you would spend because finishing in the top four is absolutely critical to maximise next season’s cash flow, and therefore, that would help in terms of determining a share price.” 

United and Liverpool may therefore look to enter the transfer market in January with both clubs currently outside of the top four places in the Premier League, sitting fifth and sixth respectively. The two teams have key weaknesses that they need to address in order to improve their Champions League chances. 

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In the case of the Red Devils, a new striker is likely to be top of the shopping list given the need to replace Cristiano Ronaldo. Cody Gakpo appears to be Erik ten Hag’s top target but the club will need to match PSV’s price tag of at least £43million placed on his services by PSV. 

A central midfielder is likely to be the priority at Anfield given Liverpool’s current crop’s struggles with form and fitness this season. Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez have both been heavily linked but would only be achievable with significant expenditure. Another forward could also be on the agenda after Luis Diaz was ruled out for another three months with a knee injury while Diogo Jota is unlikely to return until at least February. 

It remains to be seen whether or not Liverpool or United will make any moves in January but fans of both teams will take heart from the fact their owners have good reasons to open their chequebooks despite the prospective takeovers.

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