Major tournaments often act as the biggest shopping windows in the transfer market.
For every player, competing in a tournament is the realisation of a dream, the culmination of an arduous journey. For some, however, it also presents an opportunity to showcase their skills to potential new employers. Yes, for players with one eye on switching clubs, tournaments can be make-or-break.
Manchester United already have several players who have likely secured a place at next summer’s European Championship. Fitness-permitting, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford will be in the England squad, Scott McTominay in the Scotland squad, and Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes involved for France and defending champions Portugal respectively.
However, if United can conduct their transfer business swiftly, they may have made a few additions by the time the delayed finals begin. Here, we look at four players United could potentially sign before the Euros.
The one that got away from United in the summer, Sancho was targeted by the Reds throughout the most recent transfer window but were unable to agree terms with Borussia Dortmund.
Sancho propelled himself to the top of United’s shopping list with 17 Bundesliga goals last season, and while he is still waiting for his first league goal this term, the 20-year-old was on target for England against the Republic of Ireland last Thursday.
Despite his age, Sancho has already earned 17 caps for England and is expected to form part of a fearsome Three Lions trio next summer alongside United forward Marcus Rashford and Tottenham Hotspur ace Harry Kane.
United were frustrated in their attempts to land the former Manchester City winger over the summer, but if Sancho were to angle for a move back to England at the end of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may find himself with an exciting new talent before the player jets off to his first tournament with England.
While Rice has primarily been mooted as a Chelsea target of late, he is an attractive proposition for United and was considered in 2019.
The West Ham favourite has already established himself as a pivotal player for the Hammers under David Moyes, starting all 38 league games last season. He has also cemented his place in Gareth Southgate’s England team with 12 caps to his name after switching allegiances from the Republic of Ireland in 2019.
Rice’s stock as a defensive midfielder has risen steadily over the last three years, and with the 21-year-old also comfortable operating in a back three, he could be a good option for United. Chelsea will surely have other ideas, of course, with the race for Rice set to heat up over the coming months.
Another highly-rated Dortmund player, Zagadou has been linked with a United move recently.
Zagadou missed a large chunk of Dortmund’s 2019/20 campaign through injury and is yet to feature this term after injuring his knee during pre-season. However, were the 21-year-old to impress on his return, he could earn a long-awaited call-up to Didier Deschamps’ France set-up having been capped at every underage level.
With a string of impressive displays, Zagadou could find himself competing with Upamecano for a place in the France team. Still young and with room for improvement, United may not face the same level of competition for Zagadou’s signature as they would with Upamecano – but that might change if he shines at the Euros.
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United get their Premier League campaign back underway on Saturday when they welcome strugglers West Brom to Old Trafford.
The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat Everton last time out thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
The players are returning from the two-week international break, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to have as few injury and fitness concerns as possible among the stars coming back from international duty.
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Upamecano’s situation is a little different to the other three in that his Leipzig contract includes a buy-out clause which comes into effect next year, but still, while his price tag won’t rocket, a good tournament could see him become unattainable if members of the current European elite come in for him.
The 22-year-old Frenchman starred for the German side during their run to last season’s Champions League semi-finals, and while he recently endured a harrowing evening at Old Trafford, he is still considered one of European football’s most promising defenders.
Strong, quick and an exceptional passer, Upamecano ticks a lot of boxes for United but there is competition aplenty for his services. But should United manage to lure Upamecano to Old Trafford, they would watch with interest when the defender and France attempt to add the Euros to their World Cup crown.