Manchester United may have recognised the need to spend big this summer, but their pursuit of Jadon Sancho continues to stutter.
The Borussia Dortmund star is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top transfer target for this summer’s window, just like a year ago. But with the club’s top brass worried about overpaying, the saga is yet to end.
That was the case in 2017, when they got wind he’d be leaving Manchester City behind only to see the youngster end up in Germany with Borussia Dortmund instead.
United also tried to land the England international two years ago, only to settle for Daniel James instead following their failure to qualify for the Champions League.
And, just last summer, they were ultimately priced out of a deal by Dortmund and forced into recruiting Edinson Cavani on a free transfer.
Recently, it emerged Solskjaer himself had intervened over the situation.
The Norwegian made it clear that, in his eyes, it was Sancho or bust. Interest in all alternatives have been put on hold amid ongoing links to Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele.
The Daily Mail revealed at the start of the month that United had doubts about a fee for the 21-year-old, claiming the Red Devils don’t want to feel ‘ripped off’ by any potential signing.
And that shows that for all of Solskjaer’s determination to improve the squad, United are still being careful with their spending.
There is some trepidation at the club from their big money signings in recent years that haven’t worked. While Bruno Fernandes has been a hit following his £47m arrival from Sporting Lisbon, others haven’t been.
Angel Di Maria toiled and lasted just a year at Old Trafford following his arrival from Real Madrid back in the summer of 2014.
Alexis Sanchez was paid big wages upon arriving from Arsenal – but spent just 18 months at the club before being offloaded to Inter Milan.
But the La Liga giants want over £40m to let the 30-year-old go, meaning United would have to spend big on a player who will likely be stuck behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the pecking order.
For defence, Raphael Varane is the club’s dream signing.
Real Madrid have already lost Sergio Ramos but the Spain international may be joined out the door by his old defensive partner in crime.
But with Real hoping to bank £80m by selling the 2018 World Cup winner, United face having to spend big to bolster their backline.
In midfield, United want Declan Rice.
Yet West Ham have regularly insisted it would take a fee of well over £100m to seal the signing of their midfielder, who helped them qualify for the Europa League last term.
Solskjaer was up front about United’s need to strengthen when speaking in the aftermath of their disappointing Europa League final defeat to Villarreal last month.
Instead of trying to paper over the cracks, he instead made it clear further signings were essential for his side to evolve.
“I’ve been delighted with the effort, the desire, the determination of all of the players, I can’t fault them at all,” Solskjaer said.
“We’ve probably done as well as anyone could imagine.
“We are here now, we need to do better, we need to work better, work harder, cleverer. But as I said two or three players to strengthen the starting XI and the squad all together is important for us to go even further.
“Because I’m sure our contenders or challengers will also want to improve and we want to improve as much as we can.”