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Revealed: Manchester United’s summer transfer priority list including Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Joe Rodon

United have a tiered system with English youngsters Sancho and Grealish ranked as high priority targets alongside RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Monday 01 June 2020 11:52 BST
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

It’s a sign of the times that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been looking at much more analysis videos than he usually would in the last three months, and thereby thinking about what his Manchester United might look like in future.

It’s been one of the only ways to work – but may well work out. Managers rarely get such time to think about their team so deeply, and assess every minute detail of potential targets. The analytics department has never been more valuable.

For their part, United are cautious about “the optics” of overspending in the current situation. The flip side is that the old values are unlikely to apply. A relegated Aston Villa, for example, would have to compromise on Jack Grealish.

Like everything else, it is a highly changed market, but in more ways than one.

No one is likely to have the budget United themselves could demand for Paul Pogba. That is one reason the French midfielder is set to stay, and there is a feeling it could affect Grealish’s future.

That is one other wider football effect of this crisis: it could drastically change the trajectory of players’ careers. It won’t be so easy to move. More power has swung back to the clubs. Pogba could well spend his prime at United, in a way he might not have wanted.

It also reflects how Solskjaer’s side are for the moment a Bruno Fernandes injury from a fairly barren midfield.

So, for the moment, Grealish remains in United’s band of “highest priority” targets, along with Jadon Sancho.

Almost everyone thinks the England forward will leave Borussia Dortmund in the next window. Many of those believe it will be for Old Trafford. United would, in the words of one source, “do anything to get him”. They’ve already done a lot, and lead the race.

He currently looks a likelier signing than Grealish, along with Swansea City’s Joe Rodon.

The young centre-half may mitigate the need to sign either RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano or Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

They latter two currently remain on United’s top-priority group.

The club work on the basis of five such groups, with players obviously moving up and down as circumstances change. Wolves’ Raul Jimenez and West Ham United’s Declan Rice are at the moment in the lower-priority groups. That was also true of Bruno Fernandes for much of the last year, but the club went for him, and it’s so far worked out very well.

United have already moved to extend Odion Ighalo's loan from Shanghai Shenhua.

More intriguing is one name suddenly high up in priority, and who the analytics department have been working on. That is Raheem Sterling.

Sterling is of interest to United (Getty)

Nobody sees the player as any way likely to go to Manchester United, but some do feel it is a reflection of a relative uncertainty around his future if Manchester City’s Champions League ban is upheld. In other words, if he becomes available, United will go for him.

However, he is still much likelier to go to Real Madrid if he does leave City.

As to who might leave United to allow some of this, Jesse Lingard has been in regular contact with Chris Smalling and Ashley Young about what Italy is like. The midfielder is greatly tempted by a move to Serie A.

Sources say Lingard was even setting his mind on it before the crisis. Milan are one club said to be interested.

Like his manager and everyone else, mind, Lingard has since had a lot to time to think about the future.

That could now look a bit different, not least for the Manchester United first XI.

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