One of the stories that has dominated Manchester United’s summer has been the huge question mark over Mason Greenwood’s future.
At one point, the troubled Englishman who has not played professional football since January of 2022, seemed destined to return to the Old Trafford fold. And then, with days to the closure of the transfer window, those plans were suddenly upended.
As The Peoples Person have previously reported, club CEO, Richard Arnold had informed the club’s senior leadership of plans to bring Greenwood back.
As one might have expected, this was met with a tremendous public backlash that saw Arnold forced into a rethink.
With days left until the closure of the transfer window, Man United released an official statement indicating that the club would be parting ways with Greenwood in order to enable him to rebuild his career elsewhere.
While that may have been sufficient to calm the PR storm at the time, in practical terms, the situation would be far less straightforward to resolve, as not only was Greenwood not wanted back at Old Trafford, he didn’t seem to be wanted anywhere else befitting of his former status.
With no disrespect intended towards the Albanian league, the only offer on the table at the time was from an Albanian first-division side – an offer Greenwood would not even countenance.
Early into the saga, as The Athletic reports, the idea of a move to the currently attractive Saudi League seemed like a good idea. The Saudis have been on a recruiting spree that has seen several big names – many of whom could be considered still in their prime – make the move from Europe to the Middle East.
On paper, it seemed like a great match: Greenwood would get another shot at football while probably raking in a relative fortune, and the Saudis would have a genuine talent on their hands. However, this idea was rapidly dismissed as the decision-makers in Riyadh decided that the move would be too controversial.
Not only are the Saudis trying to build a new super league to rival those in Europe, but they’re putting in considerable investment into the women’s game, with a female football league in development, and a bid to host the Women’s Asian Cup underway.
As insider sources have indicated, this made the stakes way too high for the Saudis.
There were other destinations that appeared potentially feasible, but one by one, each seemed to have a change of heart over the possible PR ramifications. In particular, the Italian Serie A, which has become a source of revival for out-of-favour United players, was thought to be the likeliest exit route for Greenwood.
At various points, clubs like Atalanta, AC Milan, and AS Roma were thought to have been in the mix, but all eventually distanced themselves. At Roma, he would have been amongst familiar faces, with Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku, and of course, Jose Mourinho all at the club. However, a move would not materialise.
With the closure of the transfer window looming and no realistic suitors in sight, both United and Greenwood would have been feeling the pressure. While Greenwood would have been worried about the prospect of never playing elite football again, United also had the problem of having an unplayable, yet unsackable player costing £75,000 a week.
Finalising a move somewhere was imperative for both sides and according to the Athletic report, a storm of activity was set off as dozens of intermediary agents set about trying to lure prospective clubs from all over Europe – including Brentford – into taking Greenwood off United’s hands.
Further complicating matters was the fact that the obstacles in the way of a move were not entirely due to PR concerns. Greenwood, in his quest to move to another elite league, had to deal with the fact that clubs in the Spanish and French leagues have non-EU player restrictions that have meant that there are limited spots in their squads for an Englishman who would count towards their non-EU quota.
With the potential destinations being so limited, deadline day presented the real prospect of not being able to get a move sorted. Fortunately, from the perspective of all parties, some last-minute interest from Lazio in the Serie A, and Spanish minnows, Getafe, arose.
With both sides seriously interested in the player, the decision simply came down to luck in some sense. In Italy, the cut-off point for processing transfers is 7 p.m. but in Spain, it’s 11 p.m. This meant that while Lazio were unable to come to terms with United early enough, which Lazio have blamed United for, Getafe had just enough time to finalise the move.
The Getafe move will bring about some degree of much-needed closure to the Greenwood situation, but there is a sense that the story is not completely settled yet. The 21-year-old has only moved on loan, and it remains to be seen if there will be any subsequent attempt to bring him back to Old Trafford.