Exclusive - Manchester United remain confident they will win the race to sign Jadon Sancho, despite interest from a number of rival clubs in the England international.
Sancho's future has been thrust into the spotlight again over the last week, following a swathe of reports that Borussia Dortmund are ready to sell the 19-year-old at the end of the season.
In truth, that has been the case for a number of months. 90min reported as far back as September 2019 that United were working on making the move happen and that the German outfit were prepared to cash in on a player who has transformed into one of the form players on the continent over the last two seasons.
Interest in Sancho is wide-ranging. It can't be ruled out that Europe's most powerful clubs - the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid - won't enter the game in the next few months, even while each are prioritising other options at present, but as it stands the most serious interest in Sancho is coming from the Premier League.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, in particular, have each been linked with moves of their own. It goes without question that Sancho is an option that each club will strongly consider, but a source has told 90min that United remain firmly in the driving seat.
We'll break down the reasons why in the sections below.
Manchester City & Jadon Sancho
The reigning Premier League champions (granted, for only a few more weeks) do possess a right to match any offer accepted by Dortmund for Sancho, given City are the club Sancho left to join Dortmund in 2017. Sancho turned down a professional contract at the time; City securing an £8m fee, the aforementioned first option and a percentage of the money from a future sale.
Leroy Sane's desire to join Bayern Munich - initially reported in July 2019 - still stands, and with a year remaining on the German's contract it remains a strong possibility that the move happens. City are prepared for this, and naturally it has led to speculation over who could replace him. Sancho appears to be the perfect fit.
However, stronger interest from elsewhere, namely United, puts a return to the Etihad Stadium in the unlikely column at present. Instead, City are firming up interest in Wolves winger Adama Traore and could pursue the Spaniard instead. Their interest emerged at the start of last month.
City would like to finalise a new contract with Raheem Sterling before Euro 2020, and see Traore as the perfect foil on the opposite flank following his form this season.
Liverpool & Jadon Sancho
Theoretically, the soon-to-be Premier League champions are in the best position to sign one of the hottest properties on the market.
Liverpool are performing both on and off the pitch, and have a lucrative new kit deal with Nike confirmed to be kicking in for the start of the season. They certainly have the financial muscle to compete, are as well placed as anyone to argue why they are the club to join. They tried to sign Sancho when he left Manchester City and have interest in him now.
However, despite reports to the contrary this week, Liverpool's transfer policy (a big reason why they've earned themselves top spot in the table) stands as the reason they are not currently leading the chase. With a settled front three in place and Sancho's price potentially going as high as £120m, it would be an out-of-character move for the Reds.
That's not to say it's out of the question - the departure of a key player or alteration in policy could change their stance.
Chelsea & Jadon Sancho
Sancho grew up a Chelsea supporter and admitted in the past that current head coach Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba were among the players he liked watching growing up. Positives, certainly, and the likelihood that the Blues will need to sign another wide forward in the summer means this deal could make sense. Chelsea's confirmed signing of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax earlier this week doesn't mean their interest in Sancho has ceased.
It remains a possibility that both Willian - who has long been tracked by Barcelona - and Pedro each leave the club at the end of the season, with each set to see their contracts expire. Even after Ziyech's arrival Lampard's side would be short out wide were they to lose the pair, with only Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic as their other options.
However, while Chelsea have earned as much as £211m from player sales over the last two transfer windows (CIES), they will face a Manchester United ready to throw all their financial might behind a move for Sancho, who is their number one target. Chelsea, meanwhile, have concerns over other positions and will need to spend to fill them.
Lampard is not convinced by his options at left-back, and very publicly admitted in January that he felt Chelsea needed to sign a striker. Ben Chilwell of Leicester and Lyon's Moussa Dembele have been targeted and neither will come cheap. How far their money will stretch and where they choose to spend it remains to be seen.
Manchester United & Jadon Sancho
The difficulty for Chelsea is that Manchester United will not be beaten on price, per a source, and are prepared to go as high as it takes to strike a deal with Dortmund. His fee could soar as high as £120m, but United are willing to meet it. It's their commitment to Sancho that currently puts them in the box seat.
United have long identified the London-born forward as the player they want, regardless of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future, and are committed to offering Sancho the best deal to convince him to make the move to Manchester. 90min's report in September stated that he was "privately open to the prospect of moving to Old Trafford" and it remains the case.
That's in spite of United's form on the pitch, too. United have made Sancho feel wanted to the extent that it's been suggested even missing out on Champions League football would not impact his decision, with the player "excited" by the prospect of playing for them, holding them at the forefront of his thinking.
United have been moving forward with what they've dubbed as a cultural rebuild and see the likes of Marcus Rashford and Sancho as the leaders of their new generation. They will also tempt Sancho, of course, with that old poisoned chalice of the famous Manchester United number 7 shirt, with the plan to permanently offload Inter loanee Alexis Sanchez.
Elsewhere, Jack Grealish and James Maddison appear to be making clear privately that they would like to join United this summer, but Sancho sits top of their priority list. One of the aforementioned midfielders, likely the Aston Villa captain, are earmarked to join him if all goes to plan.
Grealish's versatility, leadership characteristics and cost mean he sits higher in the pecking order, and it's hugely unlikely United pay to sign both in the summer - especially given their recent capture of Bruno Fernandes - despite recent reports.
United would also like a defensive-minded midfielder and a striker, but are ready to do whatever it takes to make Jadon Sancho their player ahead of the start of next season.
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