Back then, Dortmund said they wanted a specific fee by a specific date. United refused to meet their £108million valuation deeming that fee too much in a coronavirus-affected market and believing those demands may drop in the following months. They didn’t and Sancho stayed.
Now, the Bundesliga giants are thought to have lowered their asking price down to around £80m and they are open to doing business because their main concentration is instead keeping striker Erling Haaland at the club an extra 12 months as the sharks circle for the Norwegian.
The Times say that £80m figure, plus some add-ons, will secure an agreement and they also suggest a deal is closer and closer to being brokered.
Sancho has previously agreed personal terms over a move to Old Trafford and once a fee is agreed, it will be a simple process for United to get the deal over the line provided he passes his medical.
And if United can deliver the addition of the generational 21-year-old, who has produced 40 goals and 36 assists in his last 82 Dortmund appearances despite only turning old 21 in March, their attack looks as good as any in the league.
Of course, the Red Devils will eventually want a younger frontman than Edinson Cavani with Sancho’s team-mate Haaland the most desirable option as a more long-term solution than Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
But 34-year-old Cavani proved in his 17-goal debut season in Manchester he can cut it at the top level still. His 23 goal contributions came in 2,180 minutes, which translate to around 24 full matches and therefore one every 94.7 minutes.
The more games the Uruguayan can start next term, the more time his team-mates – including Sancho if he signs – have to get the most out of his supreme movement and deadly finishing. His 17-goal tally can certainly rise next season.
Cavani is expected to be the starting striker with a fit-again Anthony Martial his understudy, the Frenchman hoping to get back to his 2019-20 levels when he scored 23 and assisted 12 as the team’s go-to centre-forward.
With Cavani down the middle, Sancho on the right, Marcus Rashford – and a Marcus Rashford hopefully free of injury and pain after he undergoes surgery post Euro-20202 – on the left and Bruno Fernandes in the middle, United will have one of Europe’s most fearsome front fours.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can also rotate for Martial and Mason Greenwood, who will be the main attacking reinforcements to come into the side when Solskjaer changes up his starting eleven but also mid-match off the bench too, without suffering a drop-off in quality.
Solskjaer ideally wants to sign Sancho at right-wing, Kieran Trippier at right-back, Raphael Varane at centre-back, Declan Rice in central midfield and even Haaland to lead the line.
But Sancho, Trippier and Varane – or an alternative centre-half such as Pau Torres – would be a fine summer indeed and the Norwegian would have an arsenal of attackers ready to help gun down the lesser opponents they sometimes struggled against in 2020-21.
It will not be easy to down City but with a youthful attack – well, Cavani aside – full of individuals who have enjoyed some staggering outputs in recent seasons, there is a strong platform there to believe that a true title challenge is possible. There hasn’t really been a proper tilt since Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 retirement, finishing 19 points off City in 2017-18 and then 12 poinst off Pep Guardiola and co. last term.
Sancho though would be one of the most exciting United acquisitions in the Premier League era and would help give Solskjaer a wealth of top-tier attackers to select each game.
Yet if Sancho does arrive at Old Trafford, United cannot afford to think their job is then done. Investment must also be made at centre-back most crucially. Do that in addition and that 21st league title suddenly looks a lot more achievable.