The English press have almost in unison this week claimed that there has been a breakthrough in Manchester United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho, but if transfer guru Fabrizio Romano is to be believed, the truth is that the Red Devils are no further forward. So what is going on?
As reported here yesterday, this strange divide between Romano and the British press has been going on since United missed Borussia Dortmund’s August 10th deadline for signing Sancho.
It all boils down to who do you believe. Romano is just one man and despite being widely regarded as Europe’s top transfer expert, he is only human at the end of the day and may simply have been given incorrect information.
The British press, on the other hand, are many, but when they all sing in a chorus from the same hymn sheet like this, it usually means that they have been given a briefing from a club – in this case United. That is not always the case, but it tends to be a pattern.
What is presented as news and fact in such instances is really what the club wants people to believe.
At The Peoples Person, the sense is that Romano is probably right in this situation and that wages and agents’ fees were never an issue.
So if the British press were briefed to say they were, and now to say they are not, the conclusion would be that United are trying to muddy the waters or put up a smoke screen with irrelevant information.
There are two obvious reasons for doing such a thing: as a negotiating tactic, or to save face.
If this was a negotiating tactic, it would be an odd one. How would stories that Sancho’s salary is a problem put pressure on Dortmund to drop their asking price?
Which leads us to the other option. Are United simply saving face because they have failed to sign Sancho?
What if Dortmund were telling the truth that they would not sell the player after their August 10th deadline, but United didn’t believe them and called their bluff? That seems to be the case. On August 5th, the British media reported that ‘With the transfer window open until October 5, United … will also not be bound by any artificial deadlines’.
They did call Dortmund’s bluff.
Clearly United’s negotiators, Ed Woodward and Matt Judge, thought they could spend a few weeks getting Dortmund to agree a much lower figure than their €120 million. ‘Manchester United have warned Borussia Dortmund that they are willing to walk away from a move for Jadon Sancho unless the German club lower their exorbitant £108 million demands,’ claimed another of those briefing-style reports at the time.
But maybe it was not a bluff.
Let’s suppose it was not. United now look stupid. They were told a price, they were told a deadline, but they gambled and lost. So they make excuses. ‘United are frustrated at the pace of discussions, which are being managed – at Dortmund’s request – by an independent agent’ was the first excuse. No, you said you wouldn’t be held to an artificial deadline, remember?
Then it slipped out via The Athletic that controlling shareholder Joel Glazer wouldn’t pay the €120 million and, again, United were left red-faced. So wouldn’t a story about greedy Sancho and greedy agents deflect the blame, and United fans’ anger, away from themselves and onto someone else?
Meanwhile, remember, nothing is coming from Dortmund and the German press, because the matter has been closed for a month. But because of those efforts to deflect the blame for the failure off themselves, United have kept the story alive for week after week, taking United fans on a roller coaster of a soap opera that has had no basis in reality since a month ago.
How long will the story continue? Will it be spun out until 6th October and used to excuse the board for not making other signings? Or will United finally come clean and declare that the Sancho deal is off, and put us all out of our misery?
Of course, this is speculation and it may well be that there really have been problems with Sancho’s wages and agent fees, that Joel Glazer really will pay €120 million, that Dortmund really are still negotiating with United and that the 20-year-old really will be signing for United in the next four weeks.
Let’s hope so.
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