Manchester United’s Alternative Targets to Jadon Sancho – Ranked

Adama Traore
Adama Traore is one player United could look to instead | Sam Bagnall – AMA/Getty Images

If Borussia Dortmund are resigned to losing Jadon Sancho this summer, then their poker face deserves substantial praise.

The England winger remains Manchester United’s primary target for the window ahead, but despite frequent speculation, Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has claimed United will not be able to afford the 20-year-old.

Couple that with Saturday’s claims from board member Sebastian Kehl that the club ‘expect’ Sancho to remain at Signul Iduna Park beyond the summer, and it’s beginning to seem more and more likely that United will have to look elsewhere in the meantime to strengthen their squad.

With that in mind, 90min have brought together speculation and common sense to come up with a list of alternative targets, and ranked them on their suitability.

Lucas Digne, WillianLucas Digne, Willian
Willian’s signing wouldn’t quite excite United fans | Robin Jones/Getty Images

The short-term option United fans will be desperately hoping they don’t have to consider, Willian will likely be considered an Josh King or Odion Ighalo-esque last resort, only to be pursued if all other options fail.

Still, as last resorts go, he’s not a bad one. He’s available on a free, he’s got proven Premier League and Champions League pedigree, and he’s not very popular with Liverpool fans – which is always a bonus.

Just last summer Traoré was seen as a waste of £18m, a one-trick pony with no end product who Wolves would do well to raise any sort of fee for.

Now, he’s one of the most feared attackers in the Premier League, with Wolves demanding as much as £80m for his services.

That he has been at the peak of his powers for such a short period is likely to dissuade United and any other interested club from coughing up what Wolves are asking for, but he is certainly capable of replacing the pace and directness of Sancho – if not quite the creative mastery.

United face plenty of competition for Under's signatureUnited face plenty of competition for Under's signature
United face plenty of competition for Under’s signature | Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Under has struggled to hit the heights he’s capable of this season, finding it hard to sustain a run in the Roma team after a long stretch on the sidelines with knee injury.

Over 2017/18 and 2018/19, however, he had contributed directly to 26 goals in 65 appearances, earning himself a reputation as one of the most exciting young attackers in Europe.

Roma are reported to be considering a sale to raise some funds this summer and United – along with Arsenal and Everton – are reported to be in the frame.

Bernardeschi’s reputation has fairly tailed off over the last year or two, struggling to break into a dominant and mightily competitive Juventus team, but there’s no doubt he’s a talented player with plenty to offer an elite club.

At 26 he’s a more experienced option than Sancho and lacks the winger’s explosive dynamism, but could act as an established stop-gap while the likes of Mason Greenwood and Dan James continue to development.

From the player’s perspective, he’ll be keen to rebuild his standing within the game after a trying period in Turin.

David NeresDavid Neres
Neres impressed against Chelsea in the Champions League | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Neres professes to have won over his current girlfriend by messaging her on Instagram, saying: “I am David Neres. Come to me.”

If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about his confidence in his abilities, nothing will.

The silky Brazilian managed just 12 league appearances for Ajax in 2019/20 due to injury, but still scored six goals. He’s an exceptional talent.

Jack Grealish, Matt DohertyJack Grealish, Matt Doherty
Grealish represents a left-field solution for United | Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

If United are priced out of a deal for Sancho, it may be that they decide for a change in tact. If it’s deemed that promotion from within can solve their right-midfield issues, with Greenwood, James or someone else stepping up, they could decide instead to invest in creativity elsewhere on the pitch.

Enter Jack Grealish.

The Aston Villa captain was a target for the club as recently as March, and there has been no outright indication that their interest as cooled despite the pandemic.

He’s capable of playing wide left or through the middle, and although it’s not abundantly clear who he displaces in the United team, what is clear is his ability. He’s been directly involved in more than one third of Villa’s league goals this season, and though they are still in very real danger of the drop, they would be long gone without his influence.

Federico ChiesaFederico Chiesa
Chiesa has been on United’s radar for some time | Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Before Jadon Sancho, Manchester United had Federico Chiesa. The Italian has been frequently linked with the club over the last two or three years, and it’s obvious why – he’s audaciously good at football.

His relative struggles this season have coincided with a move into a central position, which clearly plays against his key attributes. His explosive pace, dribbling ability and killer left foot suit a right wing position like a fish suits water, as evidenced by his blistering hat-trick against Roma in the quarter-finals of last season’s Coppa Italia.

Still just 22, he has improving left to do, but even on current ability, he would be a tremendous addition to Solskjaer’s ranks.

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