Even the most dedicated Manchester United fans might not be able to tell you who actually conducts the club’s transfer business.
The executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who is soon set to leave his position at the club, has been the public face of United’s transfer dealings over recent years, even once famously jetting off from a pre-season tour to conduct ‘urgent transfer business’.
Woodward’s role at United and credentials for the job have been widely scrutinised by some United supporters, but behind the scenes, working away from the spotlight — this is by design — is Matt Judge, who is officially the club’s head of corporate development.
Judge, an economics graduate from the University of Bristol and close friend of Woodward, deliberately shuns the media and until not long ago what he actually looked like was unknown — there are now pictures of Judge freely available on search engines.
“A sporting director from a top football club called me and asked me to tell Matthew Judge to answer his phone,” former United player Patrice Evra once said on Judge, which was hardly surprising considering the executives choice to remain a low profile.
Regardless of the little information in the public domain surrounding Judge, though, he’s known to be an excellent negotiator and, despite there still being multiple players on the wage bill that offer little value, he’s led United to a stellar transfer window so far.
Working in tandem with Judge to ensure United secure their transfer targets in the board room at Old Trafford is, of course, John Murtough, who was appointed United’s football director in March and is said to have been ‘impressive’ in meetings.
United have spent almost £110m on the arrivals of Jadon Sancho [£72.9m] and Raphael Varane [£34m] and there’s no denying that those two signings are outstanding additions, especially when considering the transfer fees that the pair were brought in for.
When analysing some of United’s rivals’ transfer business so far, however, those deals begin to look even better as Manchester City have splurged £100m on Jack Grealish and Arsenal have are expected to spend £129m without looking any stronger than they were.
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That’s impressive enough without mentioning that United have also astutely handled loan dealings this summer. Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams have both secured Premier League temporary moves while other talents at the club have gone further afield.
Ethan Laird, Tahith Chong, Dishon Bernard have joined Championship sides Swansea, Birmingham and Hull respectively while Facundo Pellistri — who looked very promising in pre-season — has rejoined La Liga club Deportivo Alaves after last term’s successful spell.
All those loan deals should accelerate each player’s development and ultimately United will benefit in the long-term and it goes without saying that they’re in the best position to succeed on the pitch in the immediate future with Sancho and Varane.
United fans won’t care about Judge’s low profile if he can continue to deliver in the manner he has recently in the transfer market.
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