Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed to sneak Manchester United into the top four on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season, and they eventually finished in third place, ahead of Chelsea by goal difference. However, the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool was 15 and 33 points respectively, which is an accurate gauge of the scale of the task ahead of the Norwegian if the Red Devils are to compete at the very top of the table again. While some of the mistakes of the past have been corrected, there still remains a lot of work to do at Old Trafford to bring United back to the top of the game, both domestically and in Europe.
Finishing in third place gave the club a much-needed and coveted spot in next season’s Champions League, while they remain in contention for the Europa League trophy in this campaign, with a semi-final against Sevilla and then a potential final versus Inter Milan if they manage to get past their Spanish opponents. Champions League qualification means that United can pursue their top targets, of which Jadon Sancho is supposedly the highest priority. United have tended to attack down the left this season, with Marcus Rashford cutting inside, Luke Shaw or Brandon Williams overlapping from left-back, and Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes all drifting out to that flank as well. There is a need to bring in a quality right-sided player to balance the attack a little more, and Sancho fits the bill perfectly. United’s recruitment has stepped up a little over the last year after some poor transfer windows, with Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James being acquired last summer, and Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo (on loan) arriving in January. All of these players have had an impact, with even Ighalo managing to score consistently in the cups when given a chance, which has led to a lot of interest in Manchester United on betting sites in Nigeria, for one.
However, United need to be wary of putting all their eggs in the Sancho basket. Borussia Dortmund will not let go of him easily, and they are under no pressure to sell, with Sancho having signed a new contract till 2023 last season. The German club are demanding €120 million for the winger, which United will likely have to pay in full. Negotiations are ongoing between the two clubs, and there have been conflicting reports in the media about how close a deal is to being agreed between the two clubs. While it still remains likely that Sancho will be a United player when the season resumes in September, United would be wise to have a few backup options lined up.
There are some reports that this is the case, with the club having looked at Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman and Juventus’ Douglas Costa as potential alternatives if the Sancho transfer falls through. Additionally, there is a need to strengthen elsewhere too, with central midfield and centre-back also needing upgrades. With all of this in mind, it is essential that United get the Sancho deal sewn up as soon as possible – both to give the player as much time as possible to acclimatise to his new teammates and coaches, and also to allow United to be able to make a move on some of their other transfer priorities as well.