Manchester United’s transfer plans may have been shaken up with Harry Kane reportedly making it clear once more that he wants to leave Tottenham in the summer transfer window – and his admission might present a hurdle for Jadon Sancho if the Borussia Dortmund wide-man has ambitions of joining the Red Devils.
United have big plans in the next window, among the most pressing of them being the desire to sign a top-level starting centre-back to put alongside captain Harry Maguire.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have conceded 42 times in 36 league games this season, 13 times more than Manchester City, who are 13 points ahead of them in the table. Ruben Dias’ form at the back has been a crucial reason why City are again the champions of England.
A £40million move for Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane has been mooted with the Frenchman out of contract at the Bernabeu in 2022, while Sevilla’s Jules Kounde is an alternative option for United.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund duo Erling Haaland and Sancho are both admired at Old Trafford with it thought a deal for the latter is more feasible and deserving of more immediate attention.
The England international appears easier to sign this summer following a lengthier stay with the German club, with United apparently confident they could strike an £80m deal just 12 months after a £108m asking price was demanded.
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Haaland could meanwhile go for as much as £150m, if he is to leave Dortmund at all this summer. The German giants are determined to keep the Norwegian an extra 12 months despite interest from United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
In a year’s time, mind, Haaland can be signed for £64m. Just about every major club on the continent will likely to line up to try and sign the prolific striker at that price.
Edinson Cavani has also just signed a 12-month contract extension and will expect to remain an important part of Solskjaer’s plans at United despite turning 34 back in February.
Yet Kane’s potential availability may just spark a change of plans. The Spurs frontman is unlikely to go for any cheaper than Haaland and will possibly cost even more.
But the England international is also arguably the best centre-forward in world football, or at the very least in the conversation to be the number one, with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski a strong contender, with Haaland not far off either.
Yet Kane is not just an elite goalscorer but a sublime creator, too. He’s the joint-top Premier League goalscorer this season (22 goals) and also has more assists than anyone in the league (13).
Across all competitions, he stands at a total of 48 direct goal contributions (32 goals and 16 assists) in 47 games this season and is climbing the north London outfit’s list of top scorers at a rapid rate.
He’s now on 220 goals in 334 games, below only Bobby Smith and Jimmy Greaves, but is understandably growing tired at not adding major silverware to his individual achievements. Kane has yet to win a single honour at club or international level after Spurs’ Carabao Cup disappointment, while they will highly likely not have Champions League football either next term.
Sky Sports say all of United, City and Chelsea have been in contact with the England captain’s representatives in the hope of a blockbuster deal that would deal a crushing blow to Spurs.
And if Kane shows interest in joining United, they may be faced with a difficult dilemma. Sancho and Kane would cost in excess of £200m in transfer fees alone, and that is before thinking about wages and also signing Varane and any other players.
The Glazers have promised transfer funds but Solskjaer has also been cautious to make clear that United have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic just like other clubs have. The money available to him will not be bottomless.
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That therefore makes the acquisitions of all of Kane, Sancho and Varane seem unlikely – meaning it might be a case of Kane or Sancho for United, rather than both. Even factoring in that players could leave Old Trafford to raise funds, it is still unlikely to help to afford a player like Kane, the potential fees for David de Gea and Jesse Lingard aside.
So who do United pick?
In Sancho, there is a player United have wanted for a long time. He could be the answer to the club’s long-standing issues down the right side and having only turned 22 in March, is a long-term solution. He’s already brilliant. Just imagine him in a few years’ time in the right system.
Kane is slightly less long term at 27, and turning 28 in July, but his quality speaks for itself. He has continued to be absolutely superb this term in a struggling Spurs side that look unlikely to finish any higher than sixth.
In a better side at United alongside the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and more, Kane could potentially be the man to deliver the 20-time champions’ first title since 2013.
But he wouldn’t come cheaply, perhaps a fee of between £150m and £175m plus wages across a four or five-year contract. And he’d come with risks, having had regular injury problems in recent seasons and being several years older.
In a dream world United would sign both and a world-class centre-back as well. That would send a real statement to City and any other potential title challengers next season.
But if it comes down to a choice between the pair, it is a difficult and unenviable decision. Whichever United pick, they are bound to be criticised in some quarters for not making the opposite choice.
Both players are clearly operating at the highest level, and Sancho’s ceiling is huge, but if they must choose just one, it’s up the United hierarchy to select which they think will get them closer to a long-awaited league crown.
Given Kane’s sensational Spurs output, Sancho might be the one left disappointed.