Despite refusing to pay £108million for the England international, United are pressing ahead with talks in a bid to reach a compromise.
Confirmation on Tuesday night that the clubs were miles apart in their valuations of Sancho was met with fury from supporters. But it has been United’s stance all summer that their spending would be impacted by the effects of coronavirus.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has repeatedly warned that it would not be “business as usual” during this window, yet United remain encouraged to pursue a deal for the 20-year-old, who is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s absolute priority after securing a return to the Champions League.
While they would be prepared to consider other options if a deal cannot be reached, it’s understood Sancho is an overwhelming target that they are reluctant to alter their plans. It is also believed the forward now sees his future at United – providing further incentive to United to pursue the deal.
The money remains the biggest stumbling block.
United believe payments in instalments is the best way to find a breakthrough – but are still unwilling to meet Dortmund’s full asking price.
They are reluctant to spend in excess of £60-70m on any individual target. If the deal is to get close to £108million, it will have to include performance-related add-ons.
While comparisons have been made to United’s pursuit of Harry Maguire last summer, which eventually saw them pay £80m up front, with £5m in add-ons – a deal more in line with Bruno Fernandes’ move from Sporting Lisbon is more likely.
After protracted negotiations United agreed to a €55m fee, plus €10m in ‘achievable’ performance-related add-ons. A further €15m euros were based on personal achievements including winning the Ballon d’Or.
Even if the Sancho deal were structured in a similar fashion, United’s stance is that Dortmund’s ultimate valuation is unrealistic.
While there is a confidence Sancho wants to make the move, suggestions he has agreed £250,000-a-week deal have also been refuted.
United do not want to upset their wage structure on a player of his age, regardless of how highly Solskjaer rates him. The manager has based his Old Trafford revolution on young, hungry players, but there is concern about how a salary of that size would be greeted.
Marcus Rashford signed a £200,000-a-week contract last summer and he has become the figurehead of the team.
Mason Greenwood is also likely to be rewarded for his outstanding breakthrough season, despite only signing a new deal in October. But it is unlikely to be anywhere near £250,000-a-week, even if he is expected to break into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
Sancho will have to fall in line with United’s pay structure.