ESPN football expert Gabriele Marcotti joins Pete Graves and Dharmesh Sheth to discuss the latest major developments on the Transfer Talk podcast
Last Updated: 08/08/20 11:05am
Manchester United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho appears to have hit a snag. The club remain at a standoff with Borussia Dortmund, who value the player at £108m – so what happens next?
That was one of the topics of debate on the latest edition of the Transfer Talk podcast, where ESPN football expert Gabriele Marcotti joined Sky Sports News duo Pete Graves and Dharmesh Sheth to discuss the latest major developments from the summer window.
Dortmund think he is worth €120m while United believe it would be irresponsible to spend that much money on one player in the current economic climate.
Could stalling on Sancho haunt Man Utd?
“It’s turning into one of those ‘who will blink first?’ situations,” Sheth told Sky Sports. “Last week there was what was described to me as ‘increased confidence’ that a deal could get done; personal terms were close to being agreed in principle.
“Man Utd want Jadon Sancho. Sancho wants to go to Man Utd and there appears to be a willingness from all parties to get a deal done.
“That’s the straightforward bit – but we have a game of poker because United won’t be held to ransom; they feel Dortmund’s asking price of €120m is too high in the current climate and are now looking at alternatives, though I think you have to take that bit with a pinch of salt.
Sancho worth up to £162m?
The Football Observatory values Sancho at £162m, using a methodology that factors his contract status, age, international level and many more metrics. Meanwhile, transfermarkt.co.uk proposes a £105m price tag, using their own valuation algorithm.
“Dortmund are simply not interested in negotiating on the price and are believed to want as much as €100m of that fee as an initial payment up front. Can United come up with an agreement on the structure of the payments? They were making similar noises back in January when they were trying to sign Bruno Fernandes.
“Dortmund appear to be using the same tactics as when they sold Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona in 2018 – they ended up taking less up front and making up the fee they wanted in achievable add-ons.
“It does appear that there is a deal still to be done but one note of caution: if nobody blinks and United think they could leave it a year, you’re suddenly inviting other clubs to come to the table. It appears to be a one-horse race at the moment, which is why United are saying, ‘Why should we pay this much right now’?
“The noises I was getting from Sancho’s people is that if he doesn’t get sold in the summer, he won’t be signing a new contract at Dortmund – that’s an added dimension in terms of how this plays out.”
Dortmund confident of deal on their terms
Marcotti feels the Bundesliga club are in a strong position with no need to sell – but allowing his contract to run down would be a “gamble”.
He said: “What happens if Dortmund say, we think he’s worth this, let’s wait a season when everyone will have more money and the situation is hopefully closer to normal and deal with it then?
“Dortmund have spent money on Jude Bellingham; when it comes to attacking midfielders and wingers, they have a slew of them. Sancho’s contract will also have a year less on it next summer so he’s going to be worth less money. It would be a gamble.
“Could they extend his contract with a high buy-out clause? I don’t get the sense that Dortmund are pressured into selling right now. They feel confident that they can hold out for terms that are favourable to them. I think United are probably playing this correctly too by not being bullied into it.”
Does Smalling have Old Trafford future?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed the return of on-loan player Chris Smalling this week, saying that the centre-back is a “valuable” part of his plans.
The 30-year-old impressed during his spell with Serie A club Roma, but United have been linked with a move for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes – so will Smalling feature in Solskjaer’s first-team plans?
“What Solskjaer didn’t say about Smalling when he spoke about him earlier this week is perhaps more significant,” Sheth told Sky Sports. “He spoke about how valuable he has been over the years and how his move was him proving what a good central defender he is.
“Solskjaer went on to say the following: ‘Chris has shown he will be valuable so I’ve been speaking with him and have been delighted with his season’. He doesn’t commit at all in terms of whether Smalling has a future at United. He has two years left on his contract at Old Trafford and it appears Solskjaer is moving in another direction.
“There’s even talk United are in the market for another central defender; he was already fourth choice behind Maguire, Lindelof and Tuanzebe. This would seem to be the time for United to do business on Smalling.”
Smalling revealed he was “gutted” to be leaving Rome after his loan spell was cut short before the Serie A club played their Europa League last-16 tie with Sevilla, which they lost on Thursday.
“Roma were absolutely delighted with him,” Marcotti added. “He wasn’t just a fan favourite – he played really well and was super professional. They would absolutely love to keep him. United know that; they also know there is a possibility someone else might try to sign him.
“What’s complicating matters on the Roma front is that they have reached an agreement to sell the club to an American – that deal could be closed in mid-August so while there will be money coming in, they’re not going to commit in this moment.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, if United don’t get the price they want, if Smalling comes in for pre-season and Solskjaer assesses him again. Man Utd’s current defenders have certainly had a lot of ups and downs.”
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.