Clubs expected to spend this summer, such as Manchester United and Bayern Munich, have been talking down transfer prices recently.
How can fees be over €100m given the Covid-19 situation? The market is set for a realignment, things just won’t be the same, etc etc…
Ed Woodward has hinted it will impact spending, and regardless of the extent of that, or the amount of truth, it’s something wise of him to say anyway.
The Manchester United chief’s 2014 boast of “We can do things in the transfer market that other clubs can only dream of” was never the best way to enter negotiations for big signings.
Pleading relative poverty and potentially leveraging the situation for negotiations makes much more sense.
On the other side, clubs who are expected to sell this summer, such as Borussia Dortmund, have been telling their local media there’ll be no discounts.
In January of this year, before the full weight of Covid-19 hit, SportBild reported Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Madrid were all chasing Jadon Sancho, and they put his price-tag at €150m.
Then in mid April, Bild put the price at ‘easily’ €130m, linked Chelsea, Liverpool and United, and said if no club paid up then Sancho could renew and therefore ruin the chances of a transfer anywhere.
The same article quoted Dortmund’s Hans-Joachim Watzke as saying: “I can say that, despite the existential crisis, even the very rich clubs shouldn’t believe that they can go bargain hunting with us!”
BVB were getting out the message: Pay up, or we’ll refuse to sell and offer a big renewal.
There then came claims from England that Sancho and Manchester United had already agreed on a deal, which were quickly dismissed in Germany.
On April 30th, Bild reported, according to their own information, that Sancho is on Barcelona’s wish-list, and the Catalan club had therefore joined Real Madrid in providing competition to Manchester United.
No other clubs were linked.
Bild added ‘before the pandemic’ Dortmund were looking for ‘at least €130m’.
This has of course been picked up in the Spanish media, but is it really something for Manchester United and their fans to be worried about? Probably not.
Today’s edition of Catalan newspaper Sport could send panic through the fanbase, if only the front page is looked at.
‘JADON SANCHO – ALTERNATIVE TO NEYMAR’ it shouts. Yet the first line of the report reads: ‘Jadon Sancho enters the orbit of FC Barcelona. It is the German newspaper Bild that announces this possibility’
And: ‘According to Bild sources, Barcelona really wants Sancho, a player for whom Borussia Dortmund asks for €130m’
And: ‘In Germany they take it for granted that Barca wants the star of Borussia Dortmund’
Sport suggest Ansu Fati could be used as part of the deal, something which would go down like a lead balloon with Barca fans, many of whom already feel the club has moved too far away from their La Masia ethos.
These claims are clearly being fed from Germany, and Sport don’t try to present it as something they’ve been able to back up. Indeed, the idea of Barcelona moving for Sancho has been dismissed elsewhere in the Catalan media over the past 24 hours.
Dortmund want to cash-in as much as they can, and the bigger they can make the competition seem, the stronger arm they feel they can take into negotiations. First it was €150m, then it was €130m, and last week Ruhr Nachrichten, a newspaper local to the club, suggested the price would be a minimum of €100m.
Claims came about interest from Real Madrid, something which really wasn’t followed up by Los Blancos’ closest media, the same for Liverpool, and now for Barcelona.
There’s also been that threat of the renewal if nobody pays €130m.
Borussia Dortmund are flexing muscles, yet clubs don’t appear to be taking a lot of notice, which is perhaps why these fresh claims keep coming from Germany, only to not really be backed up elsewhere.
A sale this summer has long felt like something the Bundesliga club actively want, whatever they say publicly.
When a player leaves Dortmund there’s often a well pushed character assassination. For Sancho this started last year, with suggestions his attitude wasn’t great.
Interestingly, this week’s edition of SportBild had a big article explaining Manchester United wanted to lure Sancho with the No.7 shirt and build a ‘global brand’, and he’d be tempted because he’s a ‘style and fashion-conscious youngster’.
Gentle, sure, but we can all see which way that will go if United get into tough negotiations with Dortmund, and Sancho pushes for a move.
Barcelona moving seriously is unlikely, Marca and others haven’t started a Real Madrid campaign, and there’s not been much noise about clubs such as Juventus either.
Manchester United’s biggest competition is potentially from the Premier League, although the most recent German claims failed to mention any other English destinations.
This is all set up for a summer battle, and part of that has already begun via the media.