It’s no secret that right-wing is a problem position for Manchester United and the club’s acute awareness of their own shortcomings looks certain to dictate their transfer strategy in the summer window.
What’s the word?
United have an abundance of left-sided attacking players on their ranks but a distinct shortage on the opposite flank.
A lack of quality options on the right-wing has stimulated plenty of speculation linking the club with a move for Jadon Sancho.
According to a report published by The Independent at the start of the month, United have made the England international their number one transfer target ahead of the upcoming window, with a fee of £100 million plus add-ons required to lure him away from Borussia Dortmund.
That obscene transfer fee doesn’t appear to be stifling any interest from Old Trafford despite the fact Nicolas Pepe could represent a more affordable option.
At less than half the price it would take to sign Sancho it seems foolish for Ed Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to prioritise the signing of Dortmund’s crown jewel, but Ian McGarry has revealed why Pepe isn’t an ideal option.
While speaking on The Transfer Window podcast (26:27), the former journalist, who now works as a football operations and communications consultant, had some very interesting things to say about United’s interest in Pepe and Sancho.
“Pepe is not the kind of player who is under the radar in any way, he’s been starring for Lille for a while and just this season he has been watched for the club in person by Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.”
And McGarry later went on to add (27:10): “I think Manchester United are shooting themselves in the foot a little bit by focusing on a very overpriced bid for Jadon Sancho, seemingly on the back of his form for England as well obviously as Dortmund.
“But the fact he’s English makes him A more expensive and B apparently much more attractive.
“There is an issue with Pepe being Ivorian and playing for the Ivory Coast because of the EU regulations for the Premier League restricting the amount of non-EU players you can have in your 25-man squad.
“But with regard to Manchester United I’d have thought getting rid of one non-EU player wouldn’t have been difficult, i.e. Alexis Sanchez immediately comes to mind. So I think United will probably lose out on this one.”
Alexis Sanchez ties United’s hands
Pepe is almost guaranteed to be a man in high demand this summer. That McGarry has revealed as many as four Premier League clubs have watched him in action this season is telling about how highly he is rated on the continent.
But it seems that United will have to park their interest due to his nationality, which is a massive, massive shame.
Premier League rules naturally dictate but it’s difficult to escape the feeling that United have backed themselves into a corner with Sanchez.
His presence at the club is already financially draining enough considering the size of his £350,000 per week contract, and it now seems the Red Devils could be forced to splurge £100 million on Sancho instead of targeting a more cost-effective deal for Pepe.
It seems the financial implications of Snachez’s disastrous spell at Man United continue to manifest themselves within their transfer strategy.