As the end of the transfer window draws closer, Manchester United are still very much in the market for reinforcements.
They’ve splashed the cash on Ajax midfielder Donny Van de Beek, a move which gives them some much-needed depth in the middle of the pitch, but a winger is the main priority, and Jadon Sancho is the man seemingly everyone wants.
The former Manchester City man continues to be linked with a move to Old Trafford almost every day, and there are countless reports suggesting a deal is close, although how much truth they hold is questionable.
Can Commercial Deals Help Out?
One thing you can decipher from all the reports though, is that the fee is what is proving to be the sticking point. Borussia Dortmund are in no rush to sell the England star, with their price of €120m putting off United.
On the face of it, that price is massive. However, is it?
The fee would catapult Sancho into the top five most expensive transfers of all-time, and make him the most expensive purchase by an English club (United already have the most expensive two in Paul Pogba and Harry Maguire) by some distance.
United are no strangers to splashing out large amounts on high-profile signings, and as a result, they’ve become more savvy with how they pay for their new boys. If we think back to the world record signing of Pogba, there were reports of adidas helping with the fee, thanks to their sponsorship of both club and player, and their guaranteed increase in shirt sales bringing huge financial gains.
With adidas still manufacturing Man United’s shirts until 2025, there’s a chance they could help offset the transfer fee required to take Sancho from Germany and cash in on the shirt sales, although his boot deal with Nike makes it a slightly less attractive proposition for the German sportswear giant than Pogba’s was.
Why Don’t They Just Let His Contract Run Down To Reduce His Fee?
As you look at the transfer market as a whole right now, Europe’s elite clubs are still doing business ahead of the new season. Barcelona are trying to piece together a squad that Ronald Koeman is happy with, Juventus are trying to prize Luis Suarez to Turin, and Real Madrid are trying to offload Gareth Bale to anyone willing to pay for him.
However, no one other than Man United seems to be looking at Sancho. For me, this is the biggest reason why Ed Woodward and co. need to get a deal done as quickly as possible.
If we assume nothing gets done this summer and United leave Sancho at Dortmund, you’d expect him to have another incredible season in the Bundesliga, just like last year. The 20-year-old scored 20 goals and got 20 assists in 44 games as Dortmund finished second behind Bayern Munich in 2019/20, so another year would increase his price further. €150m maybe?
It’s hard to imagine what the world is going to be like next June, but one thing we can be sure of is that Barcelona will be parting ways with Lionel Messi…and they’ll need a replacement.
It’s not unbelievable that they’ll be keeping tabs on Sancho right now, with an eye to making a move to replace Messi in a year’s time. It might sound silly right now, but someone has to take on the void left by the Argentinian.
Sancho will be 21 by that time, plays predominantly from the right of a front three, and has numbers only matched by the very best players in Europe. Why wouldn’t Barcelona be interested?
What I’m saying is this: Man United need to get their ducks in a line now, or they’ll be drawn into a bidding war with other clubs that will be trying to tempt Sancho away from the Westfalenstadion.
What If United Don’t Have The Money?
Seeing as Ed Woodward is an accountant in charge of one of the biggest clubs in the world, you’d think United have plenty of ways of approaching a transfer fee that tops €100m.
Most clubs these days stay away from lump-sum transfer fees, choosing instead to spread the cost over the duration of the player’s contract, with regular amounts going to the selling club over a long period. You’d expect Sancho to sign a 5/6 year contract if a fee is agreed, so you’re looking at €20m a year.
Again, is that much of a fee? Considering you don’t get many new players for that price these days, you’d think United could cope with a slightly smaller warchest in the coming years to get Sancho now.
That’s also the price of a sale of one player. If Chris Smalling leaves for Roma this year, he would go for a fee close to £20m, so there’s one of your payments sorted with no net spend.
Sell David De Gea next year and promote Dean Henderson to #1 and you’re looking at a (minimum) £40m fee plus a massive wage off the books, so there’s another two payments sorted.
You could even get at least £30m for Henderson if you decide he isn’t the man to replace De Gea in a year’s time.
Money isn’t that hard to come by in football.
Woodward has came in for criticism in recent years, with fans demanding success both on the pitch and in the transfer market. It feels to me like signing Jadon Sancho, a bona fide star with the world at his feet, is an open goal that even he’d struggle to miss.