It’s time for Manchester United to take the hint. Borussia Dortmund have no intention of selling Jadon Sancho this summer.
In all truth, this is something United should have known for some time. Dortmund have said it enough times, issuing numerous updates from manager, chief executive or director of football, the trio taking it in turns to shoot across United’s bows in media appearances.
While United have largely kept their counsel on Sancho (albeit it has long been common knowledge the England star is their top transfer target) Dortmund have gone on the offensive. The situation reached ‘saga’ levels long ago when the German club set United an artificial deadline by which time they wanted them to have met the asking price. Now it’s just getting ridiculous, to put it bluntly.
United are not willing to sanction a cheque for £108million, most of which Dortmund want up front and without add-ons, in the current financial climate. Fine. If that is the case, they should walk away from negotiations for Sancho.
Many United fans may feel differently and, understandably, have urged their club to simply meet Dortmund’s valuation of the player. They say, with justification, that Sancho is a generational talent and a truly elite right-winger who would improve United.
All of that is true and key to the fierce interest from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side that has been unrelenting all summer long. It goes a long way to explaining why United have persisted this long.
But with less than three weeks remaining in this most unusual transfer window, United can no longer afford to be dancing to Dortmund’s tune. They must start playing their own.
Which is why links with other right-wing options have begun to crop up in media reports. It is probably why United were so keen to wrap up a deal for Donny van de Beek earlier in the summer; why Sergio Reguilon has emerged as a credible target.
United have realised they need to get business done and that Jadon Sancho is not the only footballer out there worth signing.
Some United fans scoff when names such as David Brooks, Gareth Bale or Douglas Costa are mentioned. They (rightly, again), say none of those players are in Sancho’s class. They want only the best for their club.
So perhaps it is a compromise on Bale that represents the most palatable alternative, providing United can strike a one-year loan deal for the Welshman on reduced wages. It is understood Real Madrid are now willing to meet Bale’s demand and allow him to leave, even supplementing his hefty wages such is the acrimony between the former Tottenham winger and Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane.
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Surely taking a year-long punt on Bale is worth a gamble for United. Of course, they are keen to avoid a repetition of the disastrous Alexis Sanchez deal of January 2018 and signing Bale permanently could run that risk. The Welshman is a player past the age of 30 who would have very little resale value, potentially becoming an albatross around the club’s neck, like Sanchez was by the end.
But instead they should view a Bale loan as similar to that short-term Zlatan Ibrahimovic deal that the club struck while Jose Mourinho was in charge. A stop-gap option, for sure, but a smart one. A player who doesn’t fit the preferred transfer strategy of Solskjaer, but with something to offer. An intelligently-negotiated deal that suited everyone.
Maybe then, in 12 months’ time, United can reassess the landscape on Sancho and once again test Dortmund’s resolve.
The clock is now against United in this summer window and it’s time to act.