Borussia Dortmund yesterday closed the door on any potential transfer of English winger Jadon Sancho but Manchester United would appear not to have accepted the decision.
Dortmund always said that if their August 10th deadline was reached without a deal in place, that they would keep the player for another season, but United insisted that the deadline was artificial and unrealistic.
Old Trafford bosses believed – and clearly still believe – that the deadline was a ploy by the Germans and meant nothing. They would not be hurried.
However, Dortmund’s Head of Sport Michael Zorc yesterday said at a press conference that Sancho would stay at the club and that the decision was definite. He also revealed that Dortmund had secretly extended Sancho’s contract from 2022 until 2023, giving the Bundesliga side four more transfer windows to sell him after this one.
That seemed to have put an end to it, but the response from United suggests that they have not accepted the finality of the decision.
‘It is understood Sancho is keen on a move to Old Trafford and that United have not given up hope of landing the former Manchester City man despite Zorc’s comments,’ writes Goal’s Charlotte Duncker.
‘United are frustrated at the pace of discussions, which are being managed – at Dortmund’s request – by an independent agent.
‘It is understood Dortmund are holding out for a fee of €120 million (£108m/$142m) for Sancho, but United believe that is not a realistic figure given the state of their finances due to the impact of Covid-19.
‘United believe that the August 10 deadline set by Dortmund was merely arbitrary and they still believe a deal can be agreed before the transfer window closes on October 5.
‘They are, however, willing to walk away should it prove too difficult to come to a compromise on price, with other players such as Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman seen as alternatives.’
The Telegraph’s James Ducker presents a similar story.
‘Dortmund have insisted that all negotiations are done through two intermediaries – Sancho’s agent, Emeka Obasi, and Marco Lichtsteiner, brother of the former Arsenal defender, Stephan – and United are known to have become frustrated by the slow pace of the discussions,’ he reports.
‘It has meant there has been little direct contact between the clubs during what threatens to become an increasingly protracted process.
‘The situation could yet accelerate quickly if one side backs down or a compromise is reached but Dortmund, so far at least, are refusing to budge from their €120 million (£108m) valuation and, crucially, want a much larger upfront fee than United are currently willing to offer.
‘Other complicating factors are the agents’ fees and the salary being demanded by Sancho.
‘Contrary to some reports, personal terms have still to be agreed.’
United’s negotiators have seemingly briefed the British press that they believe Zorc’s statement to be nothing more than a negotiating tactic. They point to the fact that he made a similar announcement in the past before selling Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona.
They also point to the fact that having bought Jude Bellingham from Birmingham City last month and Erling Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg in January, Dortmund will need to make a sale to balance the books – something the German side vehemently deny.
The crucial question for Manchester United fans, therefore, is this:
Is this deal still on or not?
The probable truth is that the deal really is dead in the water.
Dortmund are proud that they have ‘the Bundesliga’s most expensive player ever’ and genuinely believe that Sancho is worth €120 million (£108m). They have never flinched from this asking price. Instalments, yes, but a portion made up of add-ons? No. They want €120 million as a flat fee, and United simply will not pay that much.
The club has given itself three more years to start a bidding war over Sancho. They may even believe that football will have recovered from its financial crisis in 12 months’ time and that Sancho might be worth even more by then – and they will have enjoyed a year more of his services in the meantime.
There are also political considerations in Germany. Around a week ago, former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said ‘When Dortmund buys a highly talented player and he plays well, a few months later you hear either from the club itself or from the outside, that he will be presented as put up for sale at some point. How is a player supposed to absorb the DNA of a club one hundred percent, when he has the feeling that he’s up for sale?’ Zorc reacted very angrily to this, saying ‘If you have 250 million euros more in your pocket every year, you can stink with your pants full.’
Ultimately Dortmund want the world to know that they are an established Champions League side and one of the world’s top teams, not a feeder club. By keeping Sancho they are making a statement of intent and they would look somewhat ridiculous if they were to back down at this stage.
What United do next in terms of transfer business will reveal the truth of the matter. It is not a long transfer window – there are four and a half weeks to go until the new season begins and eight until the window closes completely – so they will need to escalate activity in other areas immediately if, as it seems, Sancho is a no-go.
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