For a long time this summer, the transfer market has been a pool game. No one really knew what the impact of the pandemic would be on transfer fees, so no one wanted to act first with the result that there was no liquidity in the market. Everyone needed someone to jump in, just to reassure everyone that players will always switch clubs for mind-blowing amounts of money. Finally, the big dominoes are starting to fall, with Manchester United sealing the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and announcing the departure of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Sancho joins for $ 100 million, about half of what United were prepared to pay last summer. Charges can still be a risk in these uncertain times, but they are justifiable. After all, he’s a 21-year-old who scored eight goals and 11 assists in the Bundesliga last season, a technically gifted and intelligent player who can operate on both sides. One of the doubts over United last season was their ability to break down opponents who were sitting deep; Sancho should offer more creativity in broader areas to counter this.
Even though he’s a player who has been at his best with room in front of him, he offers more in that regard than, say, Daniel James. The only small caveat is that he has always been at his best when backed by an attacking full-back, which at United would mean he would naturally start on the left to join Luke Shaw, in the position that has tend to be preferred by Marcus Rashford. . But despite everything, after a few seasons in which it looked like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had only trusted a select squad of around 11 or 12 players, it’s a sign of progress that he will have choices. difficult for the big games of the coming season.
A fee of just under $ 60million has reportedly been agreed for Varane who, even after a difficult season at Real Madrid, still represents a marked improvement over Victor Lindelöf and injury-injured Eric Bailly as as a naturally upright central defender to partner with. Harry Maguire. More than any other position, probably, this was an area United had to tackle. Varane, like Maguire, is comfortable with the ball and will enter midfield, although he will look a bit more graceful doing so.
If there is any doubt, other than his indifferent form last season, it is that there have been times he has been rocked by teams pressing him high, like, say, Manchester City’s made in the Champions League in 2020, but that’s as likely to be a product of the system he was playing in as any failed individual. Football economics warns against buying a player at 28 because that’s when he is at the peak of his value, but even for a player who has only a few left. A year on his contract, even in these uncertain times, the costs seem relatively modest for a World Cup player and four-time Champions League winner of such an obvious class. It’s no secret that the pandemic has severely affected Real Madrid’s finances, and his willingness to sell Varane is likely a sign of a rebalancing of his books.
With the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed an extension until 2024, United’s immediate future looks relatively stable. Only two major questions remain. First, there is the perennial issue of Paul Pogba, whose contract expires next summer and who is said to have PSG as a voluntary contender this summer. Do United really want to risk losing him a second time on a free transfer? Still, can the club really afford to give in to the demands of their agent, Mino Raiola? Heading into his sixth season after joining club Juventus, he remains a clearly talented division figure, yet at 28, lacking the consistency and discipline of a truly central midfielder. high level.
And then there is Solskjaer himself. That he remains as popular as he does with fans is more because of his status as a club legend from his playing days than anything he has done as a manager. A second place finish last season is obviously a feat (amid the COVID-19 conditions, United were an undefeated 12-0-7 on the road but a rather vulnerable 9-6-4 at home), but 74 points, that’s is a long way from a serious challenge for the title, and United came out of the Champions League in the group stage and fell in the Europa League final against Villarreal after a legendary shootout. It’s still unclear whether Solskjaer is capable of crafting the kind of cohesive attack plans that score the best.
With a team that improves, its abilities will be more and more monitored. Bad results previously could be attributed to poor recruiting and other problems within the club. These excuses fall.
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