Manchester United’s director of football negotiations Matt Judge, the man who has overseen the club’s transfer and contracts for the last six season, has reportedly quit his role at Old Trafford
The Athletic have reported that Judge, United’s head of corporate development and the man responsible for the club’s transfers and contracts, is currently working out his notice period ahead of an Old Trafford exit later in the year. Judge looks set to become the latest big name to leave the Red Devils, with chief scout Jim Lawlor and head of global scouting Marcel Bout already confirmed as following in the footsteps of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in heading for the exit door.
Following a season of struggles, United last week confirmed Erik ten Hag has been appointed as the club’s new manager ahead of what is expect to be a summer of sizeable change. With Judge the latest name set to depart amid the significant shake-up, Mirror Football takes a closer look at the first-team players the transfer chief signed – and signed up to new contracts – during his six-year spell at Old Trafford as United splashed out a staggering £770million on new recruits alone.
Paul Pogba (£89m), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£37.8m), Eric Bailly (£34m), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Free)
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In the same year that Judge took up his role as head of corporate development, a certain Jose Mourinho was installed as manager ahead of the 2016-17 season. And the ‘Special One’ promptly set about attempting an immediate squad overhaul as he was afforded a £166m spending spree over the summer on a number of high-profile names.
Pogba returned to Old Trafford for an eye-popping £89m, four years after departing for nothing, alongside the likes of Mkhitaryan, Bailly, and Ibrahimovic. The quartet delivered immediate success as United claimed the Europa League title and the League Cup, however it would prove to be a quick fix, with Pogba and Mkhitaryan in particular struggling to procure their best at Old Trafford.
Romelu Lukaku (£76m), Nemanja Matic (£40m), Victor Lindelof (£31m), Alexis Sanchez (swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan)
Despite signing a defender, central midfielder and striker in Bailly, Pogba and Ibrahimovic in his first summer transfer window, Mourinho bolstered the exact same positions a year later. This time, Lindelof, Matic and Lukaku were to be the mega-money arrivals with expenditure totalling £147m.
The Red Devils also captured Arsenal’s Sanchez in the following January as they got one over on rivals Manchester City by beating them to the Chilean’s signature. Mourinho has openly expressed his pride at guiding this United team to second in the Premier League, however this quartet flattered to deceive, with Lukaku and Sanchez swiftly shipped off to Inter Milan when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived, and both Matic and Lindelof failing to hold down regular starting spots in the years since they signed.
Fred (£53m), Diogo Dalot (£20m), Lee Grant (£1.53m), Anthony Martial (Extension), Phil Jones (Extension)
Having undertaken a spending splurge in the previous two summers, Mourinho was afforded a smaller budget in 2018. Fred arrived for an eyebrow-raising £53m – much to the disbelief of Shakhtar Donetsk – and he was joined by the promising Dalot.
The Brazilian has been heavily criticised for not being good enough for United – namely by Roy Keane – in the years since while Dalot revived his Red Devils career after impressing on loan at AC Milan during the 2020-21 season. Fred in particular has fulfilled more of his promise over the current campaign, though it remains to be seen whether he and Dalot will have done enough to feature in Ten Hag’s plans come next season.
Harry Maguire (£80m), Bruno Fernandes (£47m), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£50m), Daniel James (£16m), Odion Ighalo (loan), David de Gea (Extension)
Manchester United via Getty Imag)
With Solskjaer the latest man tasked with turning the club’s fortunes around, he was handed a transfer war-chest in order to sculpt United’s squad to his liking. Maguire became the most expensive defender in world football, joining for a jaw-dropping £80m while around £50m was spent on both Wan-Bissaka and Fernandes.
The two defenders have struggled to live up to their billing – and price tags – having endured their fair share of struggles over the past two seasons. James has since been offloaded to Leeds for a profit after also failing to make his mark, but Fernandes proved to be one of Judge’s rare pieces of exceptional business, having contributed 49 goals and 35 assists in his 123 appearances since signing.
Donny van de Beek (£35m), Amad Diallo (£19m), Alex Telles (£13m), Facundo Pellistri (£7.65m), Edinson Cavani (free transfer), Scott McTominay (Extension), Dean Henderson (Extension), Jesse Lingard (Extension), Mason Greenwood (Extension), Eric Bailly (Extension)
While there could be no denying Van de Beek was a signing who possessed plenty of quality, question marks were raised over why the Dutchman was acquired, given his preferred position was one already occupied by the influential Fernandes. Those doubts proved to be justified as the former Ajax midfielder struggled for minutes under Solskjaer, culminating in a loan to Everton in January 2022.
Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani looked like shrew pieces of business, however the former’s defensive capabilities have been called into question in the years since, while the latter has endured an injury-hit spell at Old Trafford, which has, at times, shown plenty of promise. Both Amad and Pellistri have struggled for game-time at United and subsequently found themselves shipped out on loan.
Jadon Sancho (£77m), Raphael Varane (£36m), Cristiano Ronaldo (£14m), Tom Heaton (Free), Cavani (Extension), Mata (Extension), Grant (Extension), Anthony Elanga (Extension), Fernandes (Extension)
Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Many thought United had finally cracked the code to close the gap to the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool as three stellar names arrived at Old Trafford. A hefty £127m was spent on Sancho, Varane and a sensational Ronaldo homecoming, however those tipping United for glory this season have been proven spectacularly wrong.
Solskjaer was dismissed amid United’s turmoil on the pitch as Sancho suffered a slow start and Varane succumbed to numerous injuries. Ronaldo has fired in 23 goals in 37 appearances this season, however the 37-year-old’s signing has been branded a “mistake” in some quarters as many feel he doesn’t suit United’s system.
Judge’s final act appears to have been tying down Fernandes to a long-term deal as the Portuguese midfielder remains one of his few pieces of successful business.