Manchester United are growing increasingly confident a deal can be done with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of Jadon Sancho after cooling interest in Jack Grealish.
Discussions for Sancho centre around the transfer fee and structure of payments. It is understood personal terms will not be an issue.
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Dortmund are holding out for €120m (£109m) for the 20-year-old England international winger but United are unwilling to go that high given the financial hit that they, and many others, have taken during the pandemic.
The German club also want in the region of €100m (£90.5m) as an immediate payment and for the deal to be resolved by the time their squad returns for pre-season training on August 10, to give them time to find a replacement.
Dortmund are interested in Lille forward Jonathan Ikone as potential replacement for Sancho, with the French club valuing him at €50m (£45.25m).
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Jadon Sancho excels in a raft of stats, even compared with players of a similar position across Europe’s top five leagues
There has been no bid from United as yet, but they are the only club to have made official contact with Dortmund.
Sancho’s contract runs out in 2022 and Dortmund are relaxed about his situation.
If they do not get what they feel he is worth, they will keep him and happily wait until next summer to sell – albeit for a lower price.
United are looking at alternatives, notably Kingsley Coman on loan from Bayern Munich, but their chances of convincing Sancho to come to Old Trafford will have been enhanced by them qualifying for the Champions League.
United unlikely to sign Grealish after Villa survival
It now looks unlikely United will try to sign Grealish in this transfer window, even though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a big admirer of the Aston Villa captain.
Premier League survival means the cost for any club wanting to buy Grealish from Villa has increased significantly.
Villa’s bosses were bracing themselves for a flurry of offers if they had been relegated, and it is clear Grealish himself would have – albeit with a heavy heart – pushed for a move out of his boyhood club, so that he could remain playing at the top level.
That, inevitably, would have forced down the asking price for Grealish’s signature.
Now, it is thought it would take an offer in excess of £80m to tempt Villa’s bosses to the negotiating table.
There are doubts at Old Trafford about how Grealish would fit into the current Manchester United side.
The arrival, and outstanding form, of £68m-signing Bruno Fernandes means there is little room for another, expensive, attacking midfield player.
A first-choice front three of Marcus Rashford, Martial and Mason Greenwood would make it difficult to fit Grealish into United’s starting XI.
With such concerns, it is thought chief executive Ed Woodward would be reluctant to sanction a big-money offer.
That may mean that 24-year-old Grealish is set for another season, at least, at Villa Park.
United – with their financial firepower reinforced by winning a place in next season’s Champions League – were one of the few clubs that could afford Villa’s asking price.
There are no signs yet of any other major European club making an approach for Grealish.
United’s focus has turned to Sancho who, as an out-and-out winger, they feel better fits their squad.
Manchester United avoided a ‘nightmare’ scenario by finishing in the Premier League’s top four, Sky Sports News’ James Cooper told the Weekend Review Podcast – and he says they can now set about acquiring the transfer targets they need to kick on.
“There’s no doubt their number one target is Jadon Sancho, and I think they’ve ticked a massive box in having Champions League football because that’s attractive to someone like him, and I think it’s perhaps a deal that can be done,” said Cooper.
“But it’s going to be really difficult, complex, difficult-to-structure deal, bearing in mind I don’t think Manchester United will put a £100m cheque on the lap of Borussia Dortmund.”
Manchester United could sign Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman on loan, should the club fail in their attempts to prise Sancho away from Borussia Dortmund.
Coman is seen as an alternative for United in their search for a new wideman, if they fail to secure the services of Sancho.
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith joked Grealish’s immediate plans are to get drunk, rather than discuss his future, as the club secured their Premier League status on Sunday.
Asked about Grealish’s future, Smith said: “He goes out and gets drunk with me now!”
He later added: “We’ve got billionaire owners and he’d cost a lot, a lot of money.”
The transfer window is open and there are A-list players in demand and whose futures are uncertain. From Sancho to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gareth Bale, who could be on the move across Europe to the Premier League this summer?
The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.
A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.