German football expert Raphael Honigstein believes Manchester United have been left damaged by their bumbling pursuit of Jadon Sancho.
Honigstein, speaking on Sky Sports’ Transfer Podcast, said that Ed Woodward and United “showed a lack of understanding on Dortmund’s position” on the prospective £108m deal.
Once Borussia Dortmund’s August 10 deadline passed Honigstein says United “spent two months playing a poker game against somebody who wasn’t even at the table”.
Woodward did manage to get Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani over the line in the final two days of the window, while Donny van der Beek was signed at the start of September.
Two 18-year-olds’ Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri also arrived late on in the window, but there was no mistaking United had missed their No.1 target.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had referenced United as one of the most “financially well-off” clubs in an interview during lockdown.
The Norwegian also said he was confident that his side could conduct the business they had planned – a transfer for Sancho.
But the United’s bosses comments about “exploiting” the market came back to haunt him.
Earlier this month he told a press conference: “I think my wording in lockdown ‘exploit’ was a bad word by me, I didn’t mean in that respect.”
And Honigstein believes United just did not come to terms with Dortmund’s stance on Sancho.
“In sporting terms, Dortmund are happy that he stayed,” said Honigstein. “The irritation from their point of view was that they were very proactive.
“They understood that United were in the running and they understood that Sancho was tempted to go there. They also realised fairly early on that there wasn’t anyone else bidding against United, so they set out their terms.
“More important than the €120m asking price was the deadline of August 10. Dortmund knew if they sold Sancho in September or October, the €120m would look pretty in the bank but to them it was of no use because they wouldn’t find anyone who would be value for money.
“Clubs would be quoting them double the price they would usually because they would all want the Sancho money.
“Once the deadline passed, United laboured under the delusion that the price would come down. But if anything, it entrenched Dortmund’s position that he couldn’t leave. Once they went public with that, a reputational aspect came into it as well. Once you tell your team, your manager and the whole public that he’s not leaving, it’s almost impossible to climb down.
“United either didn’t want to or couldn’t do the deal on Dortmund’s terms, and then spent two months playing a poker game against somebody who wasn’t even at the table.
“It showed a lack of understanding on Dortmund’s position and hurt them in as much that, if you then want to pursue your B, C and D options, they should’ve done that from August 10 – not September 10 or October 1. They ran out of time and the knock-on effect of pursuing Sancho in the manner they did was damaging to them.”
Former RB Leipzig boss and sporting director Ralf Rangnick believes United failed big time.
“That domino effect took a long time to get going for various reasons. It’s not just a lack of planning that made things more fraught and panicked towards the end of the window. It was just an effect of how weird the market was,” said Rangnick.
“For United, a failure to move some of the players on was a problem and they spent a long time chasing their No 1 target but wouldn’t commit to getting it done. That still needs to be seen as a huge failure.
“When your entire transfer window is built around the pursuit of one player and you then don’t manage to sign him, something has gone wrong.”