As Manchester United gear up for the 2020-21 season, they are looking to strengthen their squad in key positions and add some depth after departures of several players from their first-team roster. Their prime target at the moment is Borussia Dortmund starlet Jadon Sancho who, ever since leaving boyhood club Manchester City, has blossomed into one of the finest young talents in world football. However, the German club have recently expressed disinterest in selling Sancho and United might have to look at other alternatives
After having a hand in 12 goals and 14 assists in his second season at the Bundesliga club, Sancho bettered both his tallies with 17 goals and 17 assists this season, making him Dortmund’s forefront attacker.
The forward had expressed interest in returning to England midway through the season and has been eyeing a return to the red side of Manchester. Ever since then, United have courted the youngster and when the transfer window opened in the summer, successful talks were held with the player over personal terms with both parties accepting them on principle.
However, sluggish talks from Borussia Dortmund and an unwillingness to sell below their mammoth valuation of £108m million have led to a disgruntled United and could lead to the Old Trafford hierarchy pulling out of talks this season. Frankly, during these turbulent times, splashing that kind of fee on a single player would be foolish. Therefore, United should be looking at potential alternatives for Sancho in the transfer market if they fail to convince Dortmund.
Being linked with a ton of players every transfer window is nothing new to United fans and pundits. Currently, the most notable of them are Serie A’s Player of the Season Paulo Dybala, the Blaugrana’s injury-prone forward Ousmane Dembele and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman. A few others like Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, and even Gareth Bale are going through the rumor mill.
United need to look at slightly lesser-known players who are silently excelling in their teams and would be much cheaper on both their transfer budget and wage bill. After poring through statistics compiled by the ever-reliable WhoScored, a list of potential Sancho alternatives for the Red Devils are given below:
1. David Neres (Ajax)
Top of the list is Ajax’s David Neres. The Brazilian was part of the young and hungry Ajax squad who awed UCL fans in the previous season, beating the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus. After joining from Sao Paulo in 2016, David Neres has become a regular for the Amsterdam team, featuring in more than 100 games for the club and scoring 35 times.
This season, the Ajax winger has averaged 2.1 shots and 1.7 successful dribbles per game, netting 6 and assisting 1 in the process. Valued at £33m by Transfermarkt, he would be a fine addition to United’s frontline.
2. Marcus Edwards (Vitoria Guimaraes SC)
Another product of England’s youth system, Marcus Edwards has flourished under the guidance of Tiago Mendes at Liga NOS side Vitoria Guimaraes. The Tottenham academy player has quickly become a regular feature for the Portuguese side, notching up over 2000 minutes this season alone.
Marcus Edwards predominantly plays down the right-wing and averages an impressive 1.9 key passes and 2.2 shots per game. The 21-year-old is an effective dribbler as well and has a high success rate of 70% for the same. Although very young, the Vitoria SC winger certainly seems like an OGS signing – young and bursting with talent.
3. Bruno Tabata (Portimonense)
The third player who joins the aforementioned list also plies his trade in the Portuguese league. Bruno Tabata plays for one of the lesser-known teams in the Primeira Liga, Portimonense. The 23-year-old has become one of the top passers in the Portuguese top tier, with 2.3 key passes per game and 8 assists this season.
Since his debut in 2017, the youngster has made 76 appearances for Portimonense and has only improved and impressed in every passing season. He isn’t very popular, but that only adds to his resume for United. Young Portuguese winger ready for the next big step in his career – ring any bells?
4. Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
Finally, we have Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno. The Spanish striker has been very impressive this season, coming third in the goalscorer’s chart after Messi and Benzema in La Liga. The goal scorer just enjoyed his best season and would be a deft addition to the United roster. He averages 2.5 shots per game with an xG90 of 0.50.
Although he is more of a central option, the Spaniard would be a good backup to either of United’s current front three with his versatility. Aged 28, the Villarreal striker may not be as glamorous or anticipated as younger forwards. However, Moreno brings to the table what Ole has been wanting – experience at the highest level.
Sancho would be a lip-smacking option and make the United faithful drool if his move materialises this summer. Unfortunately, Sancho seems to be going nowhere, dreams of the player donning the red will have to be postponed for the time being and look for other alternatives.
The next few weeks, when the United management decides to spend the funds made available for Sancho, will be interesting to watch. If they do their research and scout hidden gems, instead of adding a Gareth Bale to their books, they would be much better off in these troubled financial times.
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