Manchester United’s Front Three are Exceptional – But They Still Need Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho
United are closing in on a deal for Jadon Sancho | Lars Baron/Getty Images

Manchester United have been pursuing Jadon Sancho for months, and are closing in on finally securing his signature ahead of the 2020/21 season.

The Red Devils have taken a step closer to making the move happen, with a Borussia Dortmund-imposed deadline of August 10 looming to get a deal done and dusted.

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The signing of Sancho will be nothing but good for United | LARS BARON/Getty Images

United’s mightily impressive form following lockdown and the top flight’s restart saw them eat away at Leicester’s eight-point advantage and book their place in the Champions League on the final day of the season – despite recording their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign nine games in.

The January arrival of Bruno Fernandes proved the catalyst for a huge upturn in fortunes at Old Trafford, and the front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood were in particularly devastating form.

Rashford and Martial found the net 44 times between them in all competitions, while half of Greenwood’s 10 top flight goals came in the final seven games of the season.

The performances of United’s front three towards the back end of the campaign began to beg the questions: do the Red Devils actually need to buy Jadon Sancho? And will his purchase stunt the development of Greenwood?

Firstly, Sancho is obviously ridiculously talented and one of the most exciting young players in European football right now.

He has scored 33 goals and provided 39 assists over the course of the last two seasons for one of the top clubs in Europe, in a foreign country at the age of just 20, which demonstrates both incredible ability and maturity. There is no question United should be in the market for a player of his class.

Additionally, United cannot rely on their esteemed front three for a full 50-odd games during the 2020/21 season. While they were able to rest players in the Europa League this year, they will likely not have the luxury of blooding fresh-legged youngsters in the Champions League if they are to progress past the group stages.

United’s lack of squad depth was highlighted towards the end of the season, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was effectively forced to choose between FA Cup success and Champions League qualification.

Ole Gunnar SolskjaerOle Gunnar Solskjaer
United qualified for the Champions League, but crashed out of the FA Cup | Pool/Getty Images

The United boss plumped for the Champions League, with Paul Pogba, Martial and Greenwood all rested for the FA Cup semi final defeat to Chelsea.

Even against 10-man Norwich in the previous round, an under strength United laboured to a 2-1 victory, with Solskjaer forced to introduce Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial and Greenwood from the bench to eventually break the Canaries resistance.

The Red Devils ultimately made the Champions League partly due to their exceptional post-lockdown form, but also partly because Leicester’s lack of strength in depth caused them to drop points during the hectic Christmas period, and their form slumped catastrophically in the final weeks of the season due to injuries to James Maddison, Ben Chillwell and Ricardo Pereira, in addition to Çağlar Söyüncü’s suspension.

Likewise, Wolves got off to a slow start to the season as their relatively small squad failed to balance the demands of the Premier League and the Europa League. This demonstrates just how vital it is to assemble a strong squad, and not just a starting XI.

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United qualified for the Champions League at Leicester’s expense | Pool/Getty Images

Adding further world class quality to an already sensational front three is not only no bad thing, but arguably a necessity if United are to successfully compete on multiple fronts next season.

Rivals Manchester City currently enjoy such strength in depth that they were able to have a friendly amongst themselves in the build up to the season’s resumption. This is the calibre of team United are competing against.

The addition of Sancho will not only add another dimension of class and creativity to United’s attack, but will help to lighten the load on their already talented front three.

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Sancho will add quality, not detract from United’s front three | Lars Baron/Getty Images

Rashford risked missing the rest of the season after suffering a double back fracture against Wolves in the FA Cup because Solskjaer was effectively forced to introduce him because United were running out of options. Signing Sancho will not restrict Rashford, but it will stop the Red Devils’ reliance on him.

Likewise, Greenwood will not be stifled. Rather, he should thrive off the added competition and will benefit from not relentlessly playing three games per week while he is still a teenager.

The versatility of Sancho, Greenwood, Martial and Rashford will help United build a fluid, exciting and potentially irresistible forward line. When has having too much quality ever been a bad thing?

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Manchester United Will Not Receive Fee From Inter for Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez
United will not receive a fee for Sanchez | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Manchester United will not receive a fee for Alexis Sanchez, as the forward closes in on a permanent move to Inter.

Sanchez joined the Serie A outfit on loan last summer, but endured a tough start to life in Italy after a dislocated ankle forced him to miss most of 2019 through injury.

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Sanchez has started to recapture his once irresistible form with Inter | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

However, since returning to action the Chilean has shown flashes of the form that persuaded United to pay through the roof in wages to bring him to Old Trafford in the first place, with three goals and seven assists in Inter’s final 13 league games.

Sanchez’s performances have tempted the Inter hierarchy to make his switch to the San Siro permanent – in a move that originally was reported to involve United receiving a €15m fee.

However, according to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, the two clubs have reached a final agreement for the player and a deal is imminent – but United will not pocket a transfer fee for the player.

The 31-year-old will terminate his contract at Old Trafford and sign a three-year deal with Inter.

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Sanchez severely struggled at Old Trafford | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Although United will not receive a fee, the club will simply be delighted to shift him from the wage bill. By agreeing to terminate his contract, the Red Devils will save over £40m in wages, given the forward had two years remaining on his eye watering deal at Old Trafford.

This will enable the club to free up the wage bill and potentially leave them in a stronger financial position to land long-term target Jadon Sancho.

United and Dortmund are edging closer to agreeing a fee for the England international in what would be the blockbuster deal of the summer.

Sanchez’s move will bring an end to a miserable two and a half years at Old Trafford, where the forward scored just three goals in in 32 appearances for the club.

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Borussia Dortmund Expect Jadon Sancho Transfer Agreement With Manchester United

Jadon Sancho
The Jadon Sancho transfer saga appears to be reaching its end | TF-Images/Getty Images

Jadon Sancho has been told by Borussia Dortmund that they soon expect to reach a transfer agreement with Manchester United.

United identified the England international, formerly of rivals Manchester City, as their primary transfer target for the 2020 window close to a year ago, and negotiations between the two clubs have advanced since the end of the Premier League season. Informal talks have been ongoing for several months, though a deal has yet to be reached.

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It’s moving closer, though. Sancho has been long convinced a move to United was on the cards due to their unwavering interest in him, though the hold up has always been over the transfer fee. He has always been privately open to the prospect of moving to Old Trafford.

United last year were willing to go to £120m for the player, though the Coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll financially on a number of the game’s biggest clubs – and United have not been immune. They have always, however, been willing to break the £89m club record transfer fee they paid for Paul Pogba in 2016 to make the deal happen.

Multiple sources have reported on Monday that United are seeking a deal of between £60m-£70m up front, with two further add on payments over the next two summers to take the deal to Dortmund’s price. The German side had always been holding out for three figures in Euros, and stand to make that with the structure United are putting forward.

Dortmund want the deal completed by August 10, in order to give themselves the ability to prepare for the Bundesliga season without distraction, as well as enough time to sign a replacement. Former Man Utd forward Memphis Depay, currently at Lyon, is one player they are targeting.

Whether the deal is finalised by that date – an unofficial deadline set by Dortmund – remains to be seen, but there is now growing confidence that an agreement could soon be reached after all parties, player included, made clear that this was the preferred way forward.

Sources with knowledge of the situation told 90min: “Jadon has made his stance clear with the club, he wants this deal finalised – he has no plans to start the season with Dortmund, but they have told him that they fully expect things to be done.

“The deal is clearly edging towards getting done, and the two clubs have never broken off contact, it has been slow but has always been moving.”

Sancho is likely to sign a five-year contract upon completion of the move.

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Alexis Sanchez is looking likely to be replaced by Sancho | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Alexis Sanchez is expected to join Inter on a permanent deal in the coming days – ridding United of a huge chunk of his wages – and it will free up the iconic number 7 shirt for Sancho to take if and when he arrives. It has been reported in Italy on Monday evening that Inter will not end up paying a fee for the player.

United and Inter will this week return to action in the UEFA Europa League, with Alexis himself named in the Nerazzurri squad for the tournament – an indicator perhaps that an announcement is not too far away.

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Manchester United vs LASK Preview: How to Watch on TV, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

Manchester United have all but guaranteed their quarter final place with their 5-0 thumping in the first leg
Manchester United have all but guaranteed their quarter final place with their 5-0 thumping in the first leg | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After a ten-day break, Manchester United return to action on Wednesday against Austrian side LASK as the Europa League restarts.

Having destroying their opponents 5-0 in the first leg, there’s almost no pressure hanging over the Red Devils as they’ve already all but secured their place in the next round.

We’ll likely see a fair amount of rotation for the game as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer aims to prepare his side for the quarter finals.

When Is Kick Off? Wednesday 5 August
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Old Trafford
TV Channel/Live Stream? BT Sport 1 (UK), fuboTV (US)
Referee? TBC

United will be without both Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe. Phil Jones could potentially make his first appearance since January for the Red Devils, but that remains unlikely.

LASK are missing Thomas Goiginger and Marvin Potzmann, with both struggling with cruciate ligament injuries. The Austrian side will also be without midfielder Lukas Grgic, who’s out with an abdominal injury.

Manchester United: Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Williams; Fred, McTominay, Mata; James, Martial, Pereira.

LASK: Schlager; Ramsebner, Wrosty, Trauner; Ranftl, Michorl, Holland, Renner; Tetteh, Raguz, Frieser.

Having only lost once since January, United come into this one in scintillating form. The Red Devils have found a way to grind out results even when they aren’t at their best. United secured a Champions League spot with a 2-0 win at Leicester on the final day of the Premier League season, despite being 14 points adrift earlier in the season.

LASK’s form following football’s restart has been nothing short of disastrous. In their 11 games back so far, they’ve only emerged victorious on three occasions.

Here’s how both sides have fared in their last five games.

Manchester United

Leicester 0-2 Manchester United (26/7)
Manchester United 1-1 West Ham (22/7)
Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea (19/7)
Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United (16/7)
Manchester United 2-2 Southampton (13/7)

LASK

LASK 0-2 FK Senica (29/7)
LASK 0-3 Red Bull Salzburg (05/7)
Rapid Wien 3-1 LASK (1/7)
LASK 0-1 Wolfsberg (28/6)
Hartberg 1-5 LASK (24/6)

LASK v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First LegLASK v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg
The first leg between the sides ended in a 5-0 win for the Red Devils | Franz Kirchmayr/Getty Images

With such a healthy advantage from the first leg, there won’t be a shock overturning of the aggregate scoreline here.

United were in excellent goalscoring form during the final few weeks of the Premier League, and they should see off the visitors with ease here.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 LASK

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Manchester United Set to Swap Alexis Sánchez and Chris Smalling for Inter’s Milan Skriniar

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Milan Skriniar is the subject of a complex swap deal involving Manchester United’s Alexis Sánchez and Chris Smalling | Chris Ricco/Getty Images

Manchester United are set to offer both Alexis Sánchez and Chris Smalling to Serie A runners-up Inter in exchange for centre-back Milan Skriniar.

The 25-year-old Slovakia international joined Inter from Sassuolo in the summer of 2017 for close to £30m. Skriniar has been a consistent starter since his San Siro arrival and his ability to play on either the left- or right-hand side of three-man defence has made him a vital part of Antonio Conte’s team this season.

Milan SkriniarMilan Skriniar
Only three outfield players have played more minutes for Inter than Milan Skriniar this season | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Sánchez has been Skriniar’s teammate for this campaign after arriving on loan in the summer. Smalling has also spent the 2019/20 season on loan in Serie A, making 37 appearances for Roma across all competitions.

In an attempt to get two ageing players off the wage bill and bolster their defence at the same time, Manchester United have offered Smalling and Sánchez to Inter, with Skriniar coming the other way according to the Italian publication Calcio Mercato.

This complex swap deal has supposedly arisen after talks to take Smalling to Roma broke down as the two clubs failed to agree on a transfer fee for the former Fulham centre-back. The Serie A side were thought to be offering €15m for Smalling while his parent club was demanding as much as €25m after add-ons.

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Chris Smalling has scored three goals in 30 Serie A appearances this season | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Manchester United have also been negotiating a separate deal to take just Sánchez to Inter although finances have again complicated proceedings with the Chilean’s sizeable £400,000-per-week salary understandably a sticking point.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are considered to be unwilling to extend the loan deal of either Sánchez or Smalling as Manchester United hold out for a permanent transfer.

All three of Roma, Inter and Manchester United are still in this month’s Europa League. With the registration deadline for the tournament’s squad’s falling on Monday 3 August, Smalling will be unable to compete for Roma in the competition unless the clubs swiftly come to an unlikely resolution.

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