Yesterday it seemed that Jadon Sancho was finally just a hair’s breadth away from joining Man United after the Red Devils made an improved offer just £3 million shy of Borussia Dortmund’s asking price. Everyone was looking to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano‘s twitter feed for confirmation.
As reported here as it happened, Sky Sports in the UK and Sky Germany both claimed that the deal had been lodged and the news spread like wildfire across social media and through the British press, who continue to report it as fact today.
However, there were others who said that the information is not true, or at least, cannot confirm it, and those others are usually among the most reliable reporters in football.
First came Jan Aage-Fjortoft, a respected ESPN and Bild reporter. At around 5pm yesterday afternoon, Fjortoft tweeted:
‘Re: Sancho Unclear reports published today This is what very reliable sources tell me:
‘10 days ago Man UTD made a bid of 70 mill euro (not through middle-men, a “serious bid”) –
‘Dortmund told them it’s “90 mill plus add-ons” or “he will stay” – NO new bid since that.’
Unclear reports published today
This is what very reliable sources tell me:
– 10 days ago Man UTD made a bid of 70 mill euro (not through middle-men, a “serious bid”)
– Dortmund told them it’s “90 mill plus add-ons” or “he will stay”
– NO new bid since that
— Jan Aage Fjortoft 🏳️🌈 🇳🇴 (@JanAageFjortoft) June 19, 2021
Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano then weighed in to support Fjortoft’s claim, saying:
‘I’ve not said about any official bid today. I’m with Jan Aage: negotiations ongoing, all parties confident, Man Utd know they’ve to pay €95m… and work in progress on payment structure, bonus etc.
‘It’s not about a “new bid” today, it’s about the negotiation. Talks ongoing.’
This was followed at around 9.30pm last night by the widely-accepted expert on German football, Bild’s Christian Falk, whose modus operandi is to deem transfer stories ‘True’ or ‘False’. He simply retweeted the thread and wrote:
‘True @JanAageFjortoft @FabrizioRomano’
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) June 19, 2021
The fact is, when Romano and Falk agree on something, you believe it. So if they are right, how did Sky get it so wrong? And why are they still insisting it’s true, backed and supported widely by the British press?
Then, to complicate matters further, at 11.30pm last night, another reputable journalist, Sport 1’s Patrick Berger, said the second bid story was indeed true after all:
‘Update Sancho: I have to correct my words! Reports from today are true: Borussia Dortmund have received a new improved offer from Manchester United. But it’s still not satisfactory for #BVB. In Dortmund they think that #MUFC don’t know how good Sancho really is.’
🚨 Update Sancho: I have to correct my words! Reports from today are true: Borussia Dortmund have received a new improved offer from Manchester United. But it’s still not satisfactory for #BVB. In Dortmund they think that #MUFC don’t know how good Sancho really is. ⚫️🟡@SPORT1 https://t.co/zRqoQ2l6LW
— Patrick Berger (@berger_pj) June 19, 2021
There have been so many twists and turns in the Sancho transfer saga, but this is perhaps one of the strangest ones. The media have been divided on what has or hasn’t happened before, especially last summer. But usually that division has come between German reports and English reports, or between reliable reporters and less reliable ones.
This time, it is a complex mixture of all of the above.
There are two possible explanations for the confusion as we see it.
First, the ‘second bid’ story is not true but was leaked by someone involved in the negotiations for tactical gain. This could be anybody: Dortmund could have put the story out to put the spotlight on United’s negotiators; United could have put the story out to make it seem that they were doing something and, of course, Sancho’s people could have put it out to try to put pressure on both sides to speed up the process.
The second explanation lies in the difference between an official bid and a figure mentioned in negotiations. It is possible that the reported figure was discussed and that Dortmund are indeed considering it, but that it has not been submitted as an official bid.
If that is the case, it at least does mean that further talks have been taking place this weekend, which in itself is a cause for cautious optimism from Manchester United fans.