Manchester United’s transfer committee are still targeting a big-name signing this summer despite the coronavirus. Eurosport considers their options.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, United were ready to spend on bringing in one of James Maddison, Jadon Sancho or Jack Grealish to the club in the summer, with some of the moves relatively advanced.
There were other positions to be addressed. A striker to replace the outgoing Odion Ighalo would have been considered, especially as they missed out on Erling Haaland in the winter transfer window. Luke Shaw’s place at left-back was and is under threat by both Brandon Williams and a potential replacement. There was also a talk of a central defender to partner Harry Maguire.
An attacking midfielder remains a priority though, and with the uncertainty over Paul Pogba’s future there may even be a chance for one of the options to line up with both Bruno Fernandes and Pogba in the same team.
Grealish, Sancho and Maddison could all be up for grabs, but who would fit in best and who is the easiest signing?
Jack Grealish - Aston Villa
Jack Grealish of Aston VIlla celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on December 01, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Image credit: Getty Images
The 24-year-old playmaker has had an eventful lockdown period, having been fined £150,000 by his club for being pictured next to his crashed car after a rumoured 4am party. Grealish would probably be the easiest of the three players for United to sign, given Aston Villa are at the bottom end of the Premier League table.
Should they be relegated despite the huge wealth of VIlla’s owners, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, they will likely consider Grealish an asset who could balance the books as they mount an attempt to rebuild the side. The player, too, would likely force his way out of the club in order to break through to the England side after switching allegiances from the Republic of Ireland.
Grealish has seven goals and six assists in the league already as he has established himself as one of the most dangerous players outside of the big six clubs. He could be available for £47 million, but Villa may want to hold out for almost twice that figure. If United could scoop him up towards the lower end of the spectrum then with the economic impact of coronavirus he may be the logical signing. The risk is not his talent, but whether he will be professional enough to grab his chance.
James Maddison - Leicester City
Image credit: Getty Images
Maddison was linked to United when he made his move from Norwich City, but Leicester had the patience and courage to give him his move up from the Championship.
The 23-year-old recalls the style of David Beckham, with his relative lack of pace but exceptional passing range. He has six goals for Leicester, and given he is a year younger than Grealish and with more recent experience of the top flight, there is more certainty about his ability to cut it at the top end of the table.
United could do with Maddison’s creativity, but he is less effective on the right than through the middle, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to add strength to the flanks.
The England international is perhaps the hardest of all three potential signings. Leicester City are on course to qualify for the Champions League, so he will have less reason to leave for Old Trafford. Additionally, European revenue and their own financial security mean that Brendan Rodgers is unlikely to sell the player unless United are prepared to offer an exceptionally hefty sum. If they are going to have to shell out, then that may lead them to focusing on...
Jadon Sancho - Borussia Dortmund
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Borussia Dortmund are already back in action and as they are in second place in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich, they too are going to be in the Champions League next season unless they have a disastrous tail-end to the season.
Sancho is England’s best young talent, perhaps the most promising player to emerge since Wayne Rooney at Everton. He was already good enough for Dortmund when he moved at 17 from Manchester City, and was self-assured enough to hit the ground running. He has 31 goals in 91 senior appearances for the German side, and his scoring rate is only accelerating.
Dortmund are in the habit of selling their best players, out of careful planning or to manage contract situations. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski and others have all moved on to bigger clubs.
Borussia Dortmund are, though, no fools. They know that Sancho is worth a fortune and the 20-year-old could conceivably hold down a place in any European side for the next decade. A fee of between £80 million and £120 million has been mentioned, and with United’s credit and cash cushion, that would not be an impossible figure. Indeed, the chaos surrounded other sides in more precarious positions may tempt United into splurging when others can't in order to make up ground on their rivals.