Manchester United fans were pretty unanimous about who their top target should be during the summer transfer window. Of all the players in world football there seemed no more obvious fit for Old Trafford than Jadon Sancho.
He is the perfect age, he is homegrown, he addresses a key area of weakness within the first-team squad and, most importantly, he’s absolutely brilliant.
However, not even three weeks have passed since deadline day and there is a growing argument to suggest that he is no longer the perfect fit that he was.
United did not sign the England international in the summer transfer window over concerns about the overall cost of such a deal in the coronavirus financial climate, with the club revealing earlier this week the COVID-19 pandemic has cost them £70million in lost revenues so far.
Borussia Dortmund stuck with their €120million asking price for Sancho and were unwilling to accept a lower up-front fee with performance-related add-ons. United felt the total transfer package Dortmund were demanding was not realistic given it would’ve meant United shattering their own club-record fee as well as paying significant player and agent fees.
United will keep Sancho on their shortlist ahead of next year but a deal will remain difficult given the continued loss of revenue that they will experience in the coming months. Even in an ideal situation which would see fans potentially return in March next year there is argument to suggest Sancho should no longer be deemed the priority signing, particularity given United’s recent formation change.
Deadline-day moves for Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo might have done enough to ease the pressure on signing a proven right winger, with the duo’s own progress surely hampered by the possible signing of Sancho, as well as the development of Mason Greenwood in a wide role.
As well as the two new signings there is also the argument to suggest United are better off playing in a 3-5-2 formation against the bigger teams, something which would lessen the need for a new right winger even further.
While the most logical solution is to stick with a 4-2-3-1 system against smaller sides and switch to a more defensive set-up against bigger teams it means Sancho would either play out of position in key matches, or miss out altogether. Regardless of that decision it seems ridiculous for United to smash their own club-record fee in order to sign a player who wouldn’t be guaranteed a start in their biggest matches.
Instead there is argument to suggest United’s focus in the transfer market should switch to recruiting another specialist central defender in order to cope with the extra role which would be regularly required at the back. This of course relies on shifting the deadwood already surplus to requirements and depends greatly on the form going forward of the rejuvenated Axel Tuanzebe.
A new defensive midfielder could also be on the agenda with Nemanja Matic into his 33rd year, while Fred and Scott McTominay tend to shine as a pair but not necessarily as individuals.
Three weeks ago it was a case of Sancho or bust for United, but after the tactical masterclass in Paris he might not be needed as urgently as he was.