Manchester United's reported attempts to sign Marcos Rojo could leave the player's ownership group and current club Sporting Lisbon in a legal battle to decide his future.
Rojo is 75 percent owned by company Doyen Sports, who have structured their agreement to hold significant weight over the possible transfer of their client, reported by One World Sports, via Duncan Castles of The Sunday Times.
Sporting are said to be "contractually bound" to pay Doyen 75 percent of any fee they reject from United, according to the aforementioned report. This means the player will effectively cost €15 million to keep if a bid of €20 million, per Jamie Jackson of The Irish Times, is registered. Sporting can ill afford to do this, meaning Doyen may have to progress down the legal route to claim their alleged sum.
Castles explains the situation on Twitter:
The story heats up, however, with the development that suggests Sporting have quickly severed ties with Doyen. Castles posted a defiant quote from Bruno de Carvalho, the club's president, before indicating the agreement between club and company may no longer stand:
Sporting released a statement highlighting their intentions, as noted by Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News:
Doyen also opted to publicly detail their agreement with Rojo. Football writer Chris Winterburn sums up the most important point from this statement:
United certainly don't want to get into the middle of what could turn out to be a costly stand-off between the club and player's representatives. Sporting have already disciplined Rojo for handing in a transfer request and allegedly refusing to train, per the Press Association and via The Guardian.
The English side desperately need a new left-back after Luke Shaw was ruled out of the first month of the season with a hamstring injury, per BBC Sport.
Shaw was likely to be handed his competitive debut against Swansea on Saturday, but new boss Louis van Gaal will now turn to youngster Reece James, or potentially Ashley Young, who was likely to fill Antonio Valencia's right wing-back position during the Ecuadorean's spell on the sidelines, per Sky Sports' Tim Oscroft.
Rojo is certainly a player who is needed with haste. The versatile Argentinian can play either on the left side or in a centre-back position, both areas United need to find vital cover in. His third-party ownership makes things extremely difficult, as Doyen and Sporting wish to get their fix of cash from the deal.
The former stand to make a fortune from Rojo's sale (or non-sale if the contract terms are enforced), meaning Sporting were effectively backed into a corner. Doyen's willingness to go down the legal route indicates a messy, long-winded saga if United's interest remains.
Supporters may be wondering what the Premier League side has to do to complete a normal transfer. This summer's lack of activity has rolled on since the end of June, when Ander Herrera and Shaw were announced shortly after one another. Herrera's deal would have happened a year sooner if it wasn't for "imposters" trying to influence proceedings.
Rojo's price is likely more expensive than it should be due to Doyen owning his economic rights, meaning more needs to be paid for Sporting to even receive a decent sum.
How the club's decision to relinquish ties with Doyen affects the deal appears difficult to grasp at first glance, as the Portuguese outfit are effectively suggesting they can now reject a bid without having to pay. Legal advice will undoubtedly be sought by both.
Van Gaal will have wanted this transfer pushed through quickly. The United boss needs to add adaptable quality across the breadth of his squad, as right now, the first team is already struggling with injuries. Rojo's ability to take on a number of roles makes him a prime candidate, especially after he posted such a confident World Cup in Brazil.
As ever with United, it seems this transfer is destined to drag on. Fans will still be eagerly anticipating the arrival of Arturo Vidal or Angel Di Maria, both of whom have been fruitlessly linked with the team all summer, per Anthony Chapman of the Express. Daley Blind could be targeted if the Rojo deal falls through, reported by Tom Collomosse of the London Evening Standard.
The Red Devils certainly need greater strength in depth if they are to be seriously considered title challengers, while a galvanisation throughout the ranks is also vital to qualifying for the 2015-16 Champions League campaign. Rojo looks to be smart investment on the pitch, if his mounting problems off the field can be sorted.