The transfer saga revolving around Manchester United target Jadon Sancho has become more and more complicated in the last few days.
The English press continue to cover the story every day, suggesting that Sancho is still United’s primary focus for this transfer window, claiming that a deal could still be done before United kick off their season on September 19th, or at the very least, before the transfer window closes on October 6th.
And yet in Germany, nobody even mentions Sancho to United any more. A deal was believed close and expected to come by Dortmund’s deadline of August 10th, but nothing happened, and that was that. German transfer expert Christian Falk has not tweeted about Sancho since.
Update @Sanchooo10: @BVB expect the club @ManUtd to pay the transfer fee of 120 million euros in installments. That would also be okay for @bvb. But: the offer must be submitted by august 10th @BILD_Sport
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) August 3, 2020
Borussia Dortmund confirmed this several times. The decision is ‘definitive,’ they said. The club’s Sporting director Michael Zorc said so, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said so and director Sebastian Kehl said so.
So what is going on? Are Man United fans’ hopes being kept alive just to sell English papers when there really is no hope? Or are the German press helping Dortmund to mount one of the biggest bluffs in football transfer history?
Fans are being lied to by somebody in this situation. But by whom?
Norwegian journalist and former Middlesbrough player Jan-Aage Fjortoft posted two updates on Twitter yesterday.
The first said ‘Well connected Norwegian journalist writes that Solskjær has talked to Sancho many times. That Sancho wants to leave. That Solskjær has told Woodward: Fix it!!’
Well connected Norwegian journalist writes that Solskjær has talked to Sancho many times. That Sancho wants to leave. That Solskjær has told Woodward: Fix it!!
— Jan Aage Fjortoft ?️? ?? (@JanAageFjortoft) September 5, 2020
The well-connected journalist to whom Fjortoft refers is Fredrik Filtvedt, the man also responsible for starting the Thiago to United rumours last week.
Fjortoft then added ‘Dortmund very clear. Don’t want to sell him. Put a 10th of August deadline for any bid. Interesting that Man UTD still haven’t given up.’
Dortmund very clear. Don’t want to sell him.
Put a 10th of August deadline for any bid.
Interesting that Man UTD still haven’t given up http://t.co/0Zj1Y9Empu
— Jan Aage Fjortoft ?️? ?? (@JanAageFjortoft) September 5, 2020
The English press, notably Sky Sports, meanwhile, are claiming that the stumbling block to the negotiations are Sancho’s wages and his agent’s fees, which are described as ‘outrageous’.
On August 5th, The Telegraph claimed that ‘talk of a £340,000-a-week contract is outlandish. Agents’ fees are also potentially a complicating factor’.
Other reports claimed that the wages and agent fees would add another £100 million to the net outlay for Sancho, which if the wages were indeed £340,000 per week, would put the agent fees at around £30 million or £12 million depending on whether a four or five year contract was on the table.
Outlandish, indeed. And yet transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has consistently claimed and is still adamant that personal terms are not and never were a problem, having been agreed long ago. He confirmed this again yesterday:
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 5, 2020
Another highly reliable source, The Athletic, has joined the rest of the English press in insisting negotiations are ongoing, despite the German denials. Yet the outlet also made a very significant claim on the 19th August, saying ‘[United controlling shareholder] Joel Glazer is the one standing firm on United’s position … Joel is paying particular attention to major spending and has expressed reluctance to reach Dortmund’s €120 million asking price, plus the additional costs of salary and commission that are said to be significant.’
Put simply, the Glazers won’t pay the fee.
So, where does this leave us?
First, the hopes from United’s side seem to rest on something of a fallacy that Zorc has a habit of saying that a player is not for sale, only to reverse his decision later.
The fact is that this happened only once, in the case of Ousmane Dembele’s transfer to Barcelona. It did not happen in 2013, when Zorc said Dortmund would not sell Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich that summer; they indeed did not.
It did not happen in 2017 when Zorc said Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would not be sold in that window. The player did stay at the club for another year.
And in all fairness to Zorc, on the one occasion he did go back on his word, he did so for good reason: Barcelona came in with an outlandish €138 million offer for a player who Zorc himself had signed for just €15 million, 12 months earlier.
I mean, who wouldn’t?
Let’s assume for a moment that the English press are getting information primarily from United, that Falk is getting his information from Dortmund, that Romano is getting his information from agents and that Norwegians Fjortoft and Filtvedt are getting their information from … a former Norway teammate of Fjortoft who plays an important role in our saga, shall we say … then the picture becomes a little clearer.
The Norway, German and Romano angles coincide.
The message from Norway is don’t blame Sancho and his wages and fees. The boy wants to come. And don’t think for one minute Solskjaer isn’t pushing for it to happen.
The message from Romano is the same – the deal is done with Sancho and his agents.
So why are we getting a different story from the English press?
If United were still in negotiations and genuinely believed that Dortmund’s decision was not definitive, why would they be citing wages and agent fees as the cause of the hold up?
The logical conclusion is that United are using the British press to play the blame game. First they blamed intermediaries for slowing up the process. Now they are blaming poor Jadon and his agent for being too greedy.
The Glazer family and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward appear to simply be trying to avoid the fallout from an angry fanbase – and potentially, from an angry Solskjaer – for simply refusing to cough up what was needed, when it was needed.
Of course, this is all speculation and perhaps Jadon Sancho will indeed be wearing that red number seven shirt in two weeks’ time. But as things stand, by far the most logical scenario is that the 20-year-old will still be wearing Dortmund yellow for at least ten more months.
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