Manchester United Transfer Talk: Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho

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In the words of Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue: “it’s never too late, we’ve still got time, it’s never too late, you can still be mine.” The words apply to Manchester United and their failed pursuits of Borussia Dortmund attacking duo Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho.

This international break, and the extended down time it brings, is the perfect time to discuss how and why United whiffed on signing Haaland and Sancho, and how that can be corrected, with enough money, in the near future.

There is widespread belief, among insiders in the industry that BVB were left baffled by United’s ineptitude in closing the deal on both players. With Haaland, the widely believed narrative is that United were all in, but pulled out when they found the agent fee and a release clause unfavorable.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had an in with his young fellow countryman, as he’s close with Haaland’s father. The Norwegian connection put United in firm pole position to sign Haaland when he was still at Salzburg in January, but BVB beat them to the punch, willing to do the things, financially, United wouldn’t.

As for Sancho, well BVB set their price and held firm, but United apparently thought they would cave? It is thought that the only hold-up to this move was a disagreement on price. That’s extremely unfortunate for MUFC, especially given how Solskjaer himself, said publicly that his club could exploit the transfer market this summer.

While most clubs were worried about money, due to the covid-19 pandemic, United obviously have the vast wealth and power to circumvent such concerns. So much for that, as their window’s body of work was utterly chaotic, totally disorganized and overall a hot mess.

According to the ESPN FC Insider notebook today, OGS is very frustrated that the club didn’t sign any of his targets.

They lift the lid on Haaland by claiming:

“Solskjaer met Haaland last December and believed he had struck an agreement with the then-FC Salzburg striker over a January move to United, only for Woodward to pull the plug on a €20m deal because of agent fees and the insistence of the Haaland camp that a release clause be inserted into his Old Trafford contract.”

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The report goes on to say that Solskjaer still believes it makes good financial sense to sign Haaland from BVB in the future, even though the price would now obviously be higher than it was in 2020.

Regarding United’s pathetic showing in trying to close the Sancho deal, ESPN’s Mark Ogden writes of the young talented English right-sided attacking player:

“valued by Dortmund at £108m, is another source of frustration on the football side at United as they had no rivals to sign him this summer, but that is likely to change next year.”

He goes on to say that OGS remains interested in signing both, despite Ed Woodward/the club’s negotiation mishaps.

However, it remains to be seen if United will step up in the future, and allocate the funding that they easily have (they only finished 10th in net spend and transfer spending in the Premier League this summer) needed to close these deals.

Instead the blame could fall on Solskjaer, and he could lose his job down the line, despite it being painfully obvious that the real problems are with those above him on the corporate ladder.  A club that ranks among the top three, year in and year out, for the world’s richest, should never miss out so badly on their top transfer targets.

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This summer, United struck out on not just their top targets, but also their preferred contingency plans and fallback options too.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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