Manchester United look likely to sign striker Edinson Cavani and defender Alex Telles before the transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday night, but talk of a potential new winger will continue to dominate the headlines until it is too late.
United have spent a year tracking Jadon Sancho, but a failure to agree a deal with Borussia Dortmund by refusing to meet the much publicised €120m asking price has ultimately ended that pursuit.
United are still expected to land Atalanta teenager Amad Traore, an exciting prospect, but one who will not join the club until at least January 2021 as a result of a work permit application. Facundo Pellistri is another teenager who looks likely to sign, but again is not an immediate solution.
Ousmane Dembele and Ismaila Sarr as the two wingers most heavily linked with filling the void on the right flank in what are now the final hours of the transfer window.
There is unhelpfully a lot of conflicting information on Dembele’s immediate future.
But the last few days have brought plenty of stories of Dembele changing his mind back and forth and that hasn’t changed. After the latest claims that he wouldn’t be moving, Fabrizio Romano claimed that the player is ‘open’ to joining United. But the clubs appear to want different things, with Barcelona seeking a permanent sale and the Premier League side preferring a loan.
Romano added that United are considering paying a loan and covering all of Dembele’s wages, although it is not clear whether they will take that forward.
RAC1’s Gerard Romero has fuelled that further by reporting a paid loan is an idea that Barcelona are warming to. It would be similar to the one that saw Philippe Coutinho join Bayern Munich last summer, whereby United are responsible for his full contract in exchange for a loan fee.
Dembele didn’t train with his teammates on Monday, but his absence was reported to be as a result of illness rather than any more substantial relating to a possible transfer. The Frenchman was sent home after discussions with the club’s medical staff.
Sarr has increasingly emerged as the other alternative. The Senegal winger of course inspired Watford’s demolition of Liverpool last season and such a deal has the added benefit of additional time because of the extended transfer domestic deadline for business with EFL clubs.
The downside of that, however, is that United still must register any new players in their UEFA squad by Tuesday if they want to have them available in the Champions League group stage. It means the extra time probably won’t be all that useful in reality.
The developing Sarr story centres on many of the same complication as that of Dembele, in terms of differing expectations with regard to a permanent or loan deal.
The Manchester Evening News reports that United have been met with rejection in an opening offer for Sarr. There has been talk of an initial season-long loan and option to buy next summer for £25m, with United said to prefer a loan. Watford, however, have been tipped to hold for a permanent one.
Their asking price for Sarr is also said to be much higher at £45m. It is a price they would be keen to do a deal at if an offer matches it, but United are well short of that.
Despite the MEN’s apparent confidence there has at least been a loan proposal, Sky Sports’ James Cooper conversely commented that Sarr ‘isn’t a deal Manchester United want to do’ and is ‘not happening right now’.
Yet ESPN’s Manchester correspondent Rob Dawson has said that neither Sarr nor Dembele is currently being ruled out by United and that, for now, ‘Everything remains on standby’.