Manchester United cannot afford to miss out on summer swoop for Jadon Sancho

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  • Jadon Sancho (r) celebrates against Paderborn.

    A reminder, if ever needed, was delivered by Jadon Sancho.

    Worries about the 20-year-old’s lingering ankle problem were emphatically swept aside with a first hat-trick of his prodigious career in Sunday’s 6-1 hammering of Paderborn by Borussia Dortmund. This devastating performance should, also, have cemented opinion within the corridors of power at suitors Manchester United.

    The coronavirus pandemic has caused uncertainty across the sport as income shrivels and an end date remains elusive. There should, however, be no doubt about whether an outfit of the fallen Premier League giant’s vast resource should press the button on a substantial summer outlay.

    Hesitancy now, however understandable, is caveated by a punitive long-term cost. Sancho’s promise is such that the identity of his next club may shape Premier League title races for the next decade.

    An imperfect window of opportunity will soon open to land England’s bright new hope at a set price of €120 million, according to The Athletic. They cannot afford to let it pass if pretensions of a comeback at football’s top table are authentic.

    The ex-Manchester City’s starlets statistics are, utterly, remarkable. A return of 20 goals and 18 assists has been delivered in 39 club appearances during this staccato campaign.

    His 16 assists in the Bundesliga, alone, is only bettered by Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (17) throughout Europe’s “big five” leagues.

    Sancho is also joint-top for goals and assists with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile (both boast a combined tally of 33) throughout the aforementioned major competitions. Serie A is on pause until June 20, yet the Englishman (27) has only made one extra top-flight appearance than the prolific Italy striker (26).

    His three-goal haul against bottom-placed Paderborn made him the first English player to score an overseas hat-trick in one of Europe’s major leagues since 1989 – 11 years before he was born. Sancho is also now the youngest player in Bundesliga history to notch 30 times, beating the mark set by fellow wunderkind – and reported United target – Kai Havertz of Bayer Leverkusen.

    The potency of the emerging BVB superstar was elucidated by ex-Bayern Munich, United and City defensive midfielder Owen Hargreaves.

    “He [Sancho] makes every team better, that’s for sure,” he told BT Sport. “Everyone would love to have him.

    “Man United, Man City, Liverpool, I think he’s that good that he gets in all of them.

    “United, Chelsea and Arsenal would all love to have him. It depends on personnel and who could afford him?

    “It will cost a lost but he’s a generational talent, truly remarkable with his goals and assists and he can play in different positions. He’s going to cost a lot but he’s worth it, I’d love to see him back in the Premier League.”

    Sancho’s figures should be enough to peak United’s interest at any juncture. He is, though, made eminently desirable by the position from which devastation is reaped.

    A hole exists at right wing in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s developing squad.

    Wales’ Daniel James is two-years older than Sancho, yet is a work in progress. England youth prospect Mason Greenwood is two-years younger and his boundless destiny may be played out in a central role.

    There is no comparison to the abundance of options on the left flank – especially if France maverick Paul Pogba stays. Neither is there a talent comparable to Sancho’s that can perform on the right.

    United’s pursuit would be relentless in normal conditions. May 21’s announcement by chief financial officer Cliff Baty, however, stated initial losses to date of £28m related to coronavirus, amid a decline of 18.7 per cent for quarterly revenues and £124.4m rise of club debt to £429.1m.

    Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward argued the previous month it was “somewhat inappropriate to see speculation about transfers for hundreds of millions in current circumstances”, even though a desire endures to be “highly competitive in the market”.

    The Mirror further added that a move might be parked until 2021 because of the optics of lavishing a nine-figure fee on a footballer, while the Bank of England projects a worst recession in 300 years.

    But even Woodward noted the Red Devils are “fortunate to be in a strong financial position compared to many clubs”.

    The doomsday scenario of an aborted 2019/20 appear to have been averted. Estimated losses for United of £116.4m were calculated by the Daily Mail if that happened.

    Analyst Randal Konik, of New York-based asset management company Jefferies, has tipped the club’s stock will be one of the best performers among sports investments in a post-lockdown economy. An emboldening hint at long-term financial health.

    A £140m loan has, also, been accessed with Bank of America to get through the coronavirus crisis, according to The Sun. This cash could be utilised for transfer splurges.

    Timing is key. Their best chance of landing the sublime Sancho is now.

    Liverpool have shown zero inclination to sell Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah. Chelsea are not, now, expected to compete on price with United, while City boss Pep Guardiola’s and Sancho’s relationship can be filed under ‘mixed’.

    Marca have stated that Real Madrid have parked any desire to spend big for a year, Barcelona are concentrating on Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez and a reputed salary cap for new signings at Juventus has been imposed that would move Sancho out of their sights.

    This picture could dramatically change in 12 months. A chasing packed thinned out by current market conditions may exponentially grow.

    This would be bad news for United whose cachet has diminished since Sir Alex Ferguson’s destabilising 2013 departure.

    An example from the past also looms.

    United allowed Eden Hazard to slip through their grasp eight years ago. The Belgium magician’s presence at Chelsea was a source of sharp regret until last June’s €100 million departure to Madrid.

    A strategic error of this consequence is not worth repeating.

    Exceptional circumstances make exceptional action essential. Sancho’s recruitment would fit this bold remit and shape a bright future for United.

    They are in no justifiable position, financially or competitively, to abstain.