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Jadon Sancho to United: The Latest

Winners and losers, good windows and bad windows, God-tiers and ITKs – there are people, adults among them, for whom the transfer window is its own discrete sport. Far be it from me to tell anyone how to enjoy their life, but what a load of absolute bollocks.

It’s a particularly strange experience for a football writer. Spend months, weeks and days crafting a piece of poetry, hilarity and revolutionary insight  and be greeted with a bucketload of meh; break a well-sourced update on a deal everyone already knows about, and receive a succession of compliments and goat emojis, followed by increasingly desperate requests for updates in response to tweets about football, politics, lunch and Yom Kippur.

So, Jadon Sancho then. It’s hardly news to say that Manchester United would like to buy him – the first time I tweeted in that regard, United were playing a European knockout tie, and guess which enthused people more – but as we near the blessed end of all this, things appear to be moving. “Daniel Harris understands” that the transfer is still expected to go through, and reiterates that, whatever is briefed, the reason for the hold-up has nothing whatsoever to do with the player’s personal terms, which were agreed long ago.

The reason for the hold-up, then, is the same reason that those briefings happen, which is the same reason the deal still might not happen: United don’t want to pay as much as Borussia Dortmund say they have to pay. In a sense, this is fair enough: £120m for a player in this market is absolutely batshit. Except United haven’t walked away – they haven’t acquired an alternative nor have they stopped negotiating – so there’s a fair chance that at some point they just shut up and get it done.  

It’s not hard to see why Ole Gunnar Solskjær is so keen either. United lack a proper winger – both Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood use flank as a launching pad from which to attack the box – and though their first-choice front-three is excellent, lack game-changers on the bench. Last season, they were able to rest players in the Europa League, but that will not be possible in the Champions League, so they need more option and more quality.

Sancho would undoubtedly give them that. Able to play in any attacking role, his ability to go on the outside might compensate for Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s reticence or inability to make for the line, while his clever footwork and sharp brain make him a useful secondary playmaker. The problem being that all this conjecture is absolutely meaningless until something happens, which it may or may not. Which is to say that the sport of transfers is the sport of hopes, dreams and bullshit, things we all love and need, so perhaps it’s not such a load of bollocks after all (it is).

Daniel Harris


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