Haaland or Sancho: who should Manchester United sign in the summer?

Football transfers could be nearly as fun as the games if you're engrossed in them the right way. Casual football fans might find the idea stupid, but ask someone who actually delves deep into transfers, tier-wise guides for journalists, or belong to the tribe that tracks flights (yes, just for transfers!), they would tell you how the thrill of anticipation makes them wait 6 months.

This takes us to this interesting tale of two Dortmund players, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho. These two incredibly talented young players might be contesting for the Ballon d'Or award in the future. But right now, the contest is on a different ground. And that ground is the transfer market.

The situation

So, what's happening? There's anticipation, excitement and a lot of nervousness filled over one marquee transfer that Manchester United would make this summer, as per the suggestions of the reports.

Manchester United have done probably better than expected this season, currently in a comfortable second place. Yet they are some distance behind the leaders, Man City. Football betting sites have them an unlikely 80/1 to win the league this season. For next season some attacking threat is clearly needed, Haaland or Sancho could help here.

But it's hard to tell which player the manager fancies more. Manchester United fans haven't seen a natural right-winger on the right flank for ages. And that's the reason why they have been linked to Jadon Sancho for 2 years, who was their number one target last summer. It's clear that the manager wants him and it makes sense too.

But Haaland is a player Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has personally worked with. He's a huge fan of the player and he has made his love for the player known publicly. Ole even wanted to sign him in the winter transfer window of 2020 but due to his agent's insistence to put a release clause in the player's contract, United failed to sign him.

Which player makes more sense?

Now that we're clear both players are desired by the manager, let's move onto the plausibility and sense in the transfer of each player.

If you had asked this question at the beginning of the season, every sensible football analyst would have dismissed the idea because United's current first choice number 9, Anthony Martial had a dream season in the last campaign. He scored 17 league goals and was United's best player (after Bruno Fernandes) in the first half of 2020.

But this season has been a rum do for the player. His best trait, which is his finishing, has been his worst trait this season. He has missed 10 big chances so far and has only scored 4 goals in the 22 appearances. So, their first-choice striker isn't scoring goals. How about the alternatives?

United's other two options are 34-year-old Edinson Cavani, who came as a free agent in this campaign and has scored a decent number of goals, and Mason Greenwood, who himself is having an odd season like the Frenchman.

Reports have suggested the possibility of Cavani's departure, so that leaves us with two strikers, Martial and Greenwood. The combined tally of Martial and Greenwood's goals is 5. And there's a surprising number of midfielders in the league who have scored more goals than that.

But pay a little more attention to Mason Greenwood because he plays an important part in this transfer dilemma. How? Well, from the academy days, Mason Greenwood has been playing as a centre forward until he joined the first team. Last season, Greenwood majorly played as a right winger or right sided forward, and had a spectacular start to his senior career.

However, this season, he has started a lot of games as a striker and this hints towards the possibility that perhaps, his manager wants to try him as an answer to the problem United have been facing in the striker department. Mason can play either as a right winger or a striker but most of the people believe he's not ready to lead the line—which is also true to some extent.

Signing of young Ivorian right winger, Amad Diallo also has added a bit of complication to the situation. Diallo is only 18 years old right now and is yet to give the coaching staff and the fans the assurance that he's ready to be a starter in this team. And to be fair to him, he does need a season or two at least to be considered for that.

So, two scenarios arise out of this and this is how United's forward options could look like next season:

  1. If Haaland is signed: This would mean, United will be using Mason Greenwood as a right winger in the future along with Amad Diallo as a second choice RW. It also means Anthony Martial would be a second choice to Haaland
  2. If Sancho is signed: This would mean Martial and Greenwood would be fighting for the number nine spot and Jadon Sancho and Amad Diallo would be their right-wing options.
Now, all the difference arises cost-wise. While Jadon Sancho could come at a fee somewhere around £80m this year, Erling Haaland could cost up to £130m or even more if United try to sign him. Although, he would be available next season.

The fact that Haaland would be available for just £65m next season (does not kick in until 2022), it's a little unlikely this year that most clubs would go for him. Therefore, a more sensible approach would be to wait another year for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood to prove their mettle at number 9 position with Jadon Sancho on the right flank. If both the players in the striker pair fail to prove their worth, Erling Haaland would be just £65m away.