One of the most hilarious, ongoing, never going to actually happen transfer sagas of recent times was Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho returning to the English Premier League and Manchester United.
Except, it didn’t happen – and it was never going to, something the betting experts at the best Swiss bookmaker said all along.
Dortmund were adamant from the first moment that Sancho was not for sale at any price. United, full of their usual “but we are Man United” arrogance chose to ignore that and kept making bids for the player – bids that were never going to be accepted and were lower than Dortmund’s valuation in the first place.
United persisted, thinking Dortmund were just playing hardball – yet the Germans had no intention whatsoever of letting the player go.
Fast-forward to now and rumours are breaking that United believe they can now get Sancho for just €55m – more than €50m less than they were offering in the summer and about €75m less than Dortmund believe the player is worth.
The way it is being framed is standard United, once again – they are ‘prepared‘ to revisit the deal and would ‘be willing’ to sign him given that there is a chance Dortmund might miss out on Champions League football next season.
The whole thing epitomises so much about the modern Manchester United and paints the club in the light in which they need to be seen until they recruit an actual Director of Football or Sporting Director like every other top club in the world, even ones in Switzerland have that structure and their league does not compare to the Premier League.
Ed Woodward seems to live in a fantasy world where the allure of it being Manchester United is enough to get deals done – and it’s holding Ole Gunnar Solskjaer back big-time.
Take last summer for example – if Edinson Cavani was a target, why wait until the window was nearly closed before signing him? The same with Alex Telles who was someone, apparently, United have tracked for years.
And given that the club have several fast, young wide players why do they feel that Sancho is top priority given that anyone can see the club needs a new central defender or two urgently?
United have invested a lot of money into building out a new data-focused recruitment department but are the things they finding actually being acted upon?
Right now, the odds on Sancho moving to United this summer are longer than the gap between United’s last trophy and now.
Why would he want to move, unless it’s only for the money? That’s what the Swiss bookmaker is saying.
Dortmund have a top coach coming in next season, better than Solskjaer – and that’s not saying Solskjaer is a bad coach, just Marco Rose is better.
Dortmund, arguably, have a better core of young players than United right now – with Erling Haaland, Sancho himself, Jude Bellingham and many others. Of course, you’d expect these players to eventually move on to ‘bigger clubs’ but Dortmund have a business model that allows that at the right time.
And on that point, it is clear Dortmund are a far better run club than Manchester United – if I was a young player today and had the choice between Manchester or Dortmund I know where I’d be going.
Finally, if the Germans are letting Sancho go for €55m or thereabouts – there will be a reason and that reason, whatever it is, would suggest they are moving on a problem rather than an asset. The betting on football around Sancho being at United next season tells us the likely outcome.