Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reiterated the club’s intention to add to the current squad in the transfer market before October’s deadline, insisting they are ‘working’ on it.
United have already landed Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek in a £40m deal since the end of last season, but Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho remains the elusive primary target, for whom negotiations over a €120m price tag have been drawn out for weeks.
Despite accepting that there are financial limitations owing to the unique situation brought on by the coronavirus crisis, it has been reported this week that Solskjaer has a ‘growing annoyance’ that deals he would have expected to be done anyway have not been.
With a little over three weeks left to conclude business before the transfer window closes – unless doing business with EFL clubs, for whom there is a 10-day extension – United are running out of time.
The risk of not improving the squad this summer is that the progress and momentum that was gained from a strong end to 2019/20, finishing third in the Premier League, is lost. Solskjaer knows that only too well, with an unnerving sense of déjà vu from predecessor Jose Mourinho’s plight in the summer of 2018 now creeping in unless something significant happens.
“Since Sir Alex [Ferguson] left we've been averaging fifth. Last season we got third, which was a big step forward,” Solskjaer explained as he fielded media questions ahead of Saturday’s game.
“Everyone saw the development in the team throughout the season, Bruno [Fernandes] coming in, Harry [Maguire] being captain and showing leadership skills on and off the pitch. Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] was good,” the United boss added.
“We want to take a step forward and we can go into the new season with confidence, but we're looking to give the group a boost and we're working on it,” Solskjaer explained.
“We understand that to get even further, one, we need to develop what we have and, two, we need strengthen the team. But let's wait and see if we manage to bring anyone in. I've been in dialogue with the club, we're always discussing and, hopefully, let's see if we can bring anyone in.”
In the event they reluctantly decide to walk away from pursuing Sancho, United have drawn up a list of alternatives that includes Ivan Perisic, Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman, with Watford winger Ismaila Sarr also thought to be under consideration as well.