The name of Jadon Sancho dominated Manchester United’s summer a year ago, the will-he-won’t-he saga carrying on throughout the transfer window, although in truth it became clear as time progressed that a deal wasn’t going to happen.
United entered the shortened window confident they could complete a deal for Sancho but they were met with intransigence from Borussia Dortmund, who refused to consider lowering their €120million asking price.
The noise coming from Old Trafford for months had been that the pandemic and matches behind closed doors made any £100m+ transfers impossible, so with neither Dortmund nor United close to budging the deal remained at deadlock.
United made their intentions to Sancho clear and personal terms were agreed if a deal could be finalised, but by the final weeks of a window that didn’t close until October it had become clear that Sancho would be staying in the Bundesliga for another season.
So United fans might be forgiven a weary rolling of the eyes now a deal for Sancho is back on the table, but this time there is an expectation that this is a transfer that is more likely to happen than it was a year ago and on terms that are much more amenable to United, although Dortmund will still drive a hard bargain.
There’s certainly no desire for this to become a dragged out saga once again and it would suit both parties if a deal can be struck in a timely fashion. The fact Sancho is now with the England squad ahead of Euro 2020 complicates matters, but it’s not inconceivable a deal can be done around the tournament, especially with personal terms thrashed out a year ago.
Striking a deal with Dortmund for Sancho would be an ideal start to United’s transfer window. The 21-year-old has been a top target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since last year and he is likely to be the biggest addition this summer. The advantages to an early deal are obvious.
It would give United a much clearer indication of their budget for the rest of the summer and a better idea of the likely outgoings required to fund bids for other targets, such as Raphael Varane at Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier.
United are again operating with a degree of caution in this window, having played without a crowd at Old Trafford for all but one game last season. Splashing the cash on Sancho and then two or three more priority targets remains unlikely, so securing the biggest deal of the summer in the early stages of the window will give the club a better picture of what they can afford to do before the window shuts in August.
It would also send out a statement of intent, not just to other clubs but to potential targets as well. Solskjaer is determined to strengthen his first XI this season and that process begins with a deal for Sancho, one of the most exciting attacking talents in Europe, then it will make it clear that United mean business.
A year ago the Sancho talk became weary as United and Dortmund stuck determinedly to their initial stances. This time a deal looks more likely and it could be an ideal start to the window if United can wrap it up.