A week after reaching ‘a breakthrough in negotiations’ to sign Jadon Sancho for £70m, it has gone to pot for Man United.
Keep it brief
It might have been a coincidence that a prominent Manchester-centric writer at each national newspaper stated at around 7pm on Monday evening that Manchester United were still hopeful of signing Jadon Sancho, but were frustrated at having to deal with third-party agents, wanted to drive the asking price down and would not fall into the same expensive trap as they did with Alexis Sanchez.
It might also have been yet another incredibly transparent brief from the club that is echoed verbatim across numerous different outlets without challenge. Either or.
Yet it boggles the mind as to how all of them can receive the same lines directly from the club but still be so weirdly far apart when interpreting some of the information.
Take Sancho’s wages, for example:
‘The club want to offer a highly incentivised deal worth £220,000 per week. But Sancho is holding out for closer to £250k’ – The Sun.
‘The England international is United’s No 1 target in the transfer window and has agreed personal terms with the club on a basic salary of around £250,000 a week’ – The Guardian.
‘United are unwilling to pay Sancho the £300,000-a-week demanded by the player’s representatives’ – Daily Mirror.
So he has either already accepted a deal on or ‘is holding out for’ £250,000 a week, or his representatives are demanding £50,000 more while United are offering £30,000 less?
They should probably talk to each other.
There is also confusion over the breakdown of any possible fee:
‘United’s hierarchy still believe a deal can be struck – but they do not want to pay more than £70million for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top target’ – Evening Standard.
‘The two clubs are still far apart in terms of what 20-year-old Sancho is worth, with United willing to pay £80m for him, believing that to be a fair price in the post-Covid transfer market’ – Daily Mirror.
‘United want to pay an initial £90m (€100m) over three annual instalments and a further £18m in performance-related add-ons’ – The Guardian.
A £70m/£80m/£90m move for a player on £220,000/£250,000/£300,000 a week it is. These negotiations actually do sound a little problematic.
The award for funniest journalistic mouthpiece must go to Neil Custis, however. While everyone else contradicts each other, he contradicts himself exclusively for The Sun.
‘MANCHESTER UNITED are close to landing Jadon Sancho in a record £110million deal,’ he wrote on August 3.
‘MANCHESTER UNITED have not given up on landing Jadon Sancho,’ he wrote on August 10.
You’d think not when they are this ‘close’.
‘But United will not be bullied into meeting next Monday’s deadline set by Borussia Dortmund to sign the English superstar, 20,’ he wrote on August 3.
‘But they have been left frustrated by the player’s wage demands plus Borussia Dortmund’s refusal to deal directly with them,’ he wrote on August 10.
Perhaps if they let themselves be ‘bullied’ into signing one of the best young players in the world and a reported club target for three years, they wouldn’t be so ‘frustrated’.
‘There has been a breakthrough in negotiations as the Red Devils have forced the Germans into accepting staggered payments, with £70m up front,’ he wrote on August 3.
‘United want to pay an initial £70million that could rise to £110m based on honours and appearances. But Dortmund want more upfront for the 20-year-old England winger,’ he wrote on August 10.
It surely doesn’t matter what Dortmund want if United ‘have forced the Germans’ to accept what has been offered?
‘Sancho will sign a four-year, £220,000-a-week deal, with the option on the club’s side of extending it by a further year,’ he wrote on August 3.
‘The club want to offer a highly incentivised deal worth £220,000 per week. But Sancho is holding out for closer to £250k,’ he wrote on August 10.
That ‘will sign’ was awfully definitive with no room for manoeuvre. How does that become a ‘want to offer’ in the space of seven days?
Sure, things change, particularly when it comes to high-level transfer discussions between two sides who might feel they have leverage. But that does not account for Custis telling everyone the deal was done and United had won a week before admitting the opposite was closer to the truth, all without any sort of explanation.
It is fine to get things wrong. Mediawatch does it quite often. As does a site not a million miles from here. But at least accept and embrace that instead of pretending to be in the know when you clearly are not.
Custis works bloody hard, to his credit. He brings us the match report from United’s Europa League win over Copenhagen. But these two paragraphs are indicative of a weird trend:
‘Replays showed that Greenwood was half-a-yard offside when he latched on to Marcus Rashford’s flick header forward and the goal was ruled out.’
You can remove ‘half-a-yard’ from that sentence and it still makes perfect sense. Or you can keep it in to knowingly feed into some sort of controversy.
‘The same VAR had denied them a penalty earlier in the 24th minute too.’
Also for two offsides in the build-up. VAR didn’t ‘deny’ them anything. It properly enforced the rules throughout, however much you wish to suggest otherwise.
The Sun also offer this VERDICT from Richard Forrester as part of their game coverage. He obviously watched them toil against Copenhagen and came to one Sancho-shaped conclusion:
‘But Dortmund want more upfront and judging by tonight’s performance they should be expecting a call first thing tomorrow.
‘That is because the Red Devils desperately struggled to break down a side who were 100/1 shots to win the Europa League before kick-off.’
One man’s ‘side who were 100/1 shots to win the Europa League before kick-off’ is another’s ‘team who have not conceded more than one goal in their last 28 European games, dating back to July 2018’.
Forrester also tells us that ‘Wonderkid Mason Greenwood, who undoubtedly has the potential to be better than Sancho, will be one of the first names on the team-sheet next season’.
Not if they, y’know, sign Jadon Sancho.
He then takes aim at another area of United’s squad:
‘The quality of Sancho’s ilk is likely to be the difference in Europe’s elite competition especially with their ropey defence.
‘Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender, doesn’t have the pace to deal with Europe’s paciest strike forces.
‘It is no doubt that the back four who played tonight will leak goals in the Premier League and Champions League.’
Well that back four had literally never played together in that system until Monday. So whether they would ‘leak goals’ or not is besides the point. It wasn’t United’s first-choice defence.
He is not alone in preaching caution. ‘Red Devils looking shaky at the back’ was also one of five talking points the Daily Mirror gleaned from watching a team keep a clean sheet over 120 minutes.
United conceded three more goals than Liverpool. Do the champions have a ‘ropey defence’ that ‘will leak goals’?
‘Oh dear’ of the day
Reads the final paragraph in this Athletic piece on Robinho:
‘At Santos, they produced a Robinho doll to sell to fans. Robinho didn’t like it: “It’s ugly and looks nothing like me.” His house has its own nightclub, with sound-proofed walls. He is 36, still having fun, with magic in his feet and happiness in his soul. And, as far as City are aware, he has never set foot in Manchester again.’
‘Still having fun’ and ‘happiness in his soul’ is a weird old way to describe a man convicted of rape in November 2017.
Football365 shithouse headline of the day
‘Liverpool hero tipped to leave for Leeds or Aston Villa’
The headline is alright. The use of Kevin Phillips quotes on the pretence he knows what Divock Origi is thinking, and a picture with James Milner front and centre, is probably not.
Recommended reading of the day
Miguel Delaney on single-leg Champions League knockouts.