Manchester United have made a "breakthrough" in negotiations to sign Jadon Sancho, but the fee for the forward remains the issue, according to reports.
Just last month, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc insisted Sancho was staying put, and the decision was final. United have continued to try to prize the England international from the Bundesliga side, but various stumbling blocks have frustrated them.
However, agents fees and personal terms are now not thought to be a problem. Good progress has been made on all sides to overcome the issues.
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That does not mean a deal is close to completion, though. United remain resolute in not overpaying for a player given the realities of Covid-19. The onus now is on United to try and broker a deal with Dortmund. Sancho is keen and willing to go to United in this transfer window, but the clubs remain apart in their valuation of the 20-year-old.
Analysis: United right to play hardball for Sancho
Having been taken for a ride too often in the transfer market, playing hardball for Sancho is overdue, as long as United get their man in the end, even if that means waiting six months.
Many a selling club have seen United coming. So desperate to return to anything like their former grandeur as bitter rivals Manchester City and now Liverpool streak clear, a selling club can add on a premium when they know United want one of their assets, capitalising on that desperation to improve.
Dortmund seem fully aware of the United mark-up, and are standing firm on their €120m valuation of United's not-so-secret top target Sancho. A deal looked to be nearing its conclusion just one day ago with Sancho set to join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's revolution, but the clubs now seem to be unable to agree on a fee.
In the past, this is where United would have caved, and just bit the bullet and stumped up the cash. After all, they are hardly short. Maguire and Romelu Lukaku's transfer did drag on, but you never felt like United wouldn't eventually pay what Leicester and Everton were asking. Now, perhaps, they may be learning their lessons.
The form of United's front three, who finished the season outscoring Liverpool's famed strike triumvirate, has led some United fans to claim they do not need Sancho. While the majority of such claims are very much tongue-in-cheek, there is some element of truth in there, as United do, for the first time in many years, appear to have several high-class forward options already in the ranks.
Ed Woodward takes plenty of vitriol from United fans desperate for reinforcements, but he also gets the flack for some of the fees United shell out. Fans cannot have it both ways, and this change of approach, even if it means biding their time for Sancho to ensure they pay a more acceptable amount, can be seen positively.
Finally standing firm on Sancho, should the deal still get done at some point, may be the start of United exerting their power in the transfer market again. Let the hardball commence.
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