Although, as Ed Woodward said, it won’t be business as usual for Manchester United in the upcoming summer transfer window, they must still achieve their main aims.
Top priority for some time now in terms of transfer targets, has been Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho, with the right flank a clear area needing improvement – despite Mason Greenwood’s emergence, which was reiterated after the 18-year-old scored another goal against West Ham on Wednesday night.
MEN Sport understands United remain confident of doing a deal for Sancho and that the player is very keen on the idea too. The transfer window officially opens for business on July 27th, a matters of days now.
So what must United give Sancho in order to ensure that the move happens, and that he’s happy once he arrives? The 20-year-old could prove a truly crucial signing for United, so the club must get the framework right around him.
It’s pretty obvious that this one will work for everybody. Sancho loves to play on the right-wing and United need a natural in that position who is of elite quality. But it’s also true that Sancho likes to roam around, a trait which should suit Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attacking blueprint at United.
The Norwegian is building his attack around players whose movement and fluidity is their strength, in Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Greenwood of course.
Sancho, while an out-and-out right-winger, is cut from that same cloth and should fit this United forward line like a hand in a glove.
There are some who argue that United do not truly need Sancho, that Greenwood’s development and ability to play on the right-wing means that the plans to sign the Dortmund wing starlet should be shelved. Yet it’s surely non-negotiable that United need a higher standard of attacking players, with the signing of Sancho key to raising those levels even if it means one of Sancho, Greenwood, Rashford and Martial sits on the bench.
That ought not to deter the former Manchester City youth product, however, who may get the odd rest but would still be a vital player for Solskjaer. As recent performances have shown, United badly need depth in attacking positions.
It’s often said that great players need people of similar ability around them. It certainly looks to be the case with Paul Pogba at United right now, as the Frenchman looks more comfortable next to Bruno Fernandes in midfield and behind a resurgent Martial and Rashford.
Sancho is a similar case and should, like Pogba, be emboldened by the impact of Fernandes. The Portuguese playmaker has transformed United into a genuinely elite side and could help attract signings like Sancho and others.
Maybe another arrival, either in defence or midfield, could tip the balance even further and persuade Sancho that Old Trafford is a place worth coming to. Jack Grealish is a distinct possibility.
Champions League football
As MEN Sport have reported, United are waiting until their Champions League fate is sealed (or not, as the case may be) before acting on targets.
Sancho will surely reconsider if his prospective club aren’t in next season’s European top competition, though that may not be decided for sure until the Europa League campaign is over.
But United would much rather clinch a third or fourth place finish to show Sancho and other potential targets that they are back, that they’re a force to be reckoned with once more. This is another reason why Sunday’s showdown with Leicester City means so much.