Manchester United playmaker Alexis Sanchez is believed to be the highest-paid player in the Premier League. Photo: Scott Heppell/Reuters

English soccer club Manchester United said their core quarterly earnings dipped because of rising wages for their players after their return to the Champions League.

United, whose leading players include Paul Pogba and David de Gea, are currently second in the 20-team English Premier League and have reached the last-16 of the Champions League, Europe’s elite club competition.

“Our solid business model has allowed us to invest in the future of the club with the extension of Jose Mourinho’s contract as manager and the acquisition of Alexis Sanchez,” vice chairman Ed Woodward said.

Manager Mourinho last month extended his contract until 2020, while Sanchez moved from Arsenal.

The club’s adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the three months to December 31 slipped to £67.8 million from £69m a year ago.

Revenue increased 3.8 percent to £163.9m in the period – the second quarter of its 2017-18 financial year.

However, salary expenses for the quarter came in 9.4 percent higher at £69.9m on player salary uplifts due to participation in the Champions League.

Controlled by the American Glazer family, United have won the English league title a record 20 times.

Last season, United won the League Cup, as well as Europe’s second-tier Europa League competition, securing a slot in the cash-rich Champions League for the current season.