Surprise Man Utd sale expected as Murtough progresses on both Sancho, Ronaldo

Date published: Thursday 10th June 2021 10:41 - James Marshment

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal No 7

Manchester United are confident of signing one of either Jadon Sancho or Cristiano Ronaldo this summer, with John Murtough reported to be making progress on both deals.

The Red Devils’ pursuit of the Sancho has been one of the most written about transfer sagas in recent memory. United chased Sancho’s signature throughout the summer 12 months ago. A transfer fee in nine figures was touted at the time. But amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a deal ultimately failed to materialise.

Not to be deterred, United have reignited their interest 12 months on. And by all accounts, progress appears to have been made.

Reports emerged earlier in the week of Dortmund lowering their asking price. A figure of around £81.5m should now be enough to seal a deal.

Indeed, Bild reports on Thursday morning that United have submitted their first official offer for Sancho. As per the German paper, their opening gambit totals £60m (€69m).

Dortmund have reportedly set a strict deadline on the move, with the Bundesliga side already outlining his would-be successor.

United, however, are also said to be exploring the possibility of bringing Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.

The former United favourite is at something of a career crossroads amid claims he could be offloaded by Juventus.

Despite his advancing age, the Portuguese remains one of the most potent attacking forces in European football.

At 36, Ronaldo bagged a whopping 36 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions last season. Those figures surpassed both Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah’s tallies who both played more games.

However, all is seemingly not well for Ronaldo at Juventus.

In late April, Ronaldo reportedly tasked his agent with lining up a summer move. Within a month, the Turin club then relinquished their nine-year stranglehold on Serie A to Inter Milan and came within a whisker of missing out on next season’s Champions League.

Ronaldo has a single year remaining on his current deal at Juventus. With the club moving in a new direction after replacing Andrea Pirlo with Max Allegri, a summer exit is a distinct possibility.

United are one of a handful of clubs capable of pulling off such a deal. Indeed, the Red Devils were linked with a swap deal in May for the man who inspired Bruno Fernandes.

Now, according to Duncan Castles, United’s director of football John Murtough remains open to the idea of signing either. Indeed, he claims talks over the pair are ongoing.

However, speaking on Transfer Window podcast, Castles claims United will sign one or the other, not both.

“There is a clear priority for [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer and his recruitment specialists. And that is that they sign a forward,” Castles said.

“Now, they have an interesting set-up in that they’re looking both for a centre-forward and for a right-sided forward. However, they will probably only sign one of those.

“Why? Because they feel like bringing a top talent in in that position. And they’re looking at high-price, high-quality acquisition – can be accommodated in the current squad.”

Martial likely to depart

The odd man out in the recruitment process is likely to be Anthony Martial.

The United No 9 endured a difficult season, scoring just seven times amid some niggling injuries.

Often played as a centre-forward, he looks likely to be the fall guy with Cavani opting to extend his stay.

Now Castles claims he’ll likely be the man to leave this summer should a top-class forward arrive.

“Should they bring Sancho, or another top-quality right-winger in, Mason Greenwood would move into a centre-forward role. He’d share the position essentially with Edinson Cavani, and Anthony Martial would be moved out.

“If instead they go for a quality centre-forward, and Cristiano Ronaldo is on the list of potential acquisitions, as is Erling Haaland who would be Solskjaer’s preference, then Mason Greenwood would stay on the right-hand side and share that position with the emerging Amad Diallo and Dan James.”

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