Many a selling club have seen Manchester United coming. So desperate to return to anything like their former grandeur as bitter rivals Manchester City and now Liverpool streak clear, a selling club can add on a premium when they know United want one of their assets, capitalising on that desperation to improve.
Whether it is having to fork out a record £80m for Harry Maguire, over £30m for an unproven Victor Lindelof, or nearly £70m for an out-of-favour Angel di Maria, the fees United have had to outlay regularly end up being inflated.
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Dortmund seem fully aware of the United mark-up, and are standing firm on their €120m valuation of United's not-so-secret top target Jadon Sancho. A deal looked to be nearing its conclusion just one day ago with Sancho set to join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's revolution, but the clubs now seem to be unable to agree on a fee.
In the past, this is where United would have caved, and just bit the bullet and stumped up the cash. After all, they are hardly short. Maguire and Romelu Lukaku's transfer did drag on, but you never felt like United wouldn't eventually pay what Leicester and Everton were asking. Now, perhaps, they may be learning their lessons.
The form of United's front three, who finished the season outscoring Liverpool's famed strike triumvirate, has led some United fans to claim they do not need Sancho. While the majority of such claims are very much tongue-in-cheek, there is some element of truth in there, as United do, for the first time in many years, appear to have several high-class forward options already in the ranks.
Romelu Lukaku was one of severl big-name signings who United paid big, big money for
Image credit: PA Sport
Sancho would improve their arsenal a great deal, of course, but unlike when they were pursuing Lukaku, United are no longer desperate. If they were to miss out on Sancho, while it would be a big blow, it would not be an apocalyptic disaster, given the quality they already possess.
United are aware of the market conditions at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic and are doing their best to assert authority in the Sancho pursuit. If they do have to wait for Dortmund to budge on €120m, then so be it. The later United leave it, the lower Dortmund will have to come down as Sancho runs closer to the end of his contract, which is due to expire in the summer of 2022.
It is not like there is a huge clamour from other clubs over Sancho for Dortmund to use in their negotiating of a higher price with United. Much of that is due to the market conditions at the moment, but those few with money to spend, Chelsea and Real Madrid for example, seem set on other targets, with the fee perhaps putting off the rest.
Ed Woodward takes plenty of vitriol from United fans desperate for reinforcements, but he also gets the flack for some of the fees United shell out. Fans cannot have it both ways, and this change of approach, even if it means biding their time for Sancho to ensure they pay a more acceptable amount, can be seen positively.
Finally standing firm on Sancho, should the deal still get done at some point, may be the start of United exerting their power in the transfer market again. Let the hardball commence.