The outlet claims that ‘talks are continuing’ for Sancho despite Borussia Dortmund’s head of football Michael Zorc saying that the player will stay in Germany for another season at least.
However, reporter Laurie Whitwell does confess that a compromise will be difficult and that the club is also exploring alternative options.
One such option, as has been widely reported, is Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman, who may be surplus to requirements at the Allianz Arena after the arrival of Leroy Sané from Manchester City. However, reports from Germany at the end of July claimed that Bayern had decided against selling him.
It may be for this reason that United have turned their attentions to Costa and Bale, if Whitwell is indeed correct.
‘The Athletic understands Douglas Costa is another genuine possibility,’ the reporter claims.
‘The 29-year-old would be available for a fraction of Sancho’s fee but his attacking numbers are also down. He scored three goals in 29 appearances for Juventus last season.
‘Gareth Bale has long been admired at Old Trafford and his position in limbo at Real Madrid invites talk about a move during this window. Wages for the now 31-year-old would inevitably be complicated, however.’
Reports associating United with names such as these would not normally be taken seriously but when they come from The Athletic, you feel there must be some truth to them.
Two other names mentioned by Whitwell – Jack Grealish and Kai Havertz – seem more in keeping with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s blueprint, but the reporter believes that both are probably too expensive to pursue.
‘Talks were held over Kai Havertz in January, but United balked at Bayer Leverkusen’s €100 million valuation. Havertz is still being monitored in the background, though Chelsea are in advanced talks over his signing,’ Whitwell states.
‘Before Bruno Fernandes arrived in January, Jack Grealish was described by sources as United’s “No 1 target” [but] his price could be as much as £70 million, which would put pressure on United’s ambitions to work to a tight budget.’
This, rather bizarrely, leaves Costa and Bale as the two potentially most affordable options on the list. How Manchester United fans would react to the club finally signing the latter at 31 years of age remains to be seen, but many would be concerned that it would be another Alexis Sanchez type mistake – an injury-prone player past his best on huge wages.
Despite Bale’s obvious talents, that is arguably the last thing United need at the moment.
Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have scored over 60 goals between them so far this season. But how much do you know about other strikers who played for the Red Devils over the years? Take our quiz below to find out.