It’s that time of the year when some teams start preparing for the pre-season and others, even further. Manchester United, have always, done their deals with utmost secrecy in the past, at least up until, Sir Alex Ferguson’s leadership. Things are rather different now from top to bottom at Old Trafford and the fact that every move of theirs – from scouting a 15-year old to registering an interest in a player to enquiring a buyout clause – is being tracked down these days is how far they have changed as a football club.
As rumors go, there’s been strong waves of news suggesting a potential Manchester United move in the summer for Portuguese 18-year old midfielder Renato Sanches – for an estimated value of £40 million while his club Benfica are perceived to be holding out for a fee close to £46.5 million. James Ducker, of the Telegraph, claims that there’s been a bid from United in February close to £35 million, which was rejected, and it seems Benfica are clearly biding their time to test Manchester United’s resolve, knowing there are several other suitors who could swarm in making this a messy affair, the last thing Ed Woodward would want to see happen.
The enormous fee quoted must not stagger anyone one bit as United have been no strangers to breaking the bank for young potentially top players, or to rephrase it, young players with top potential. In the early 2000s, it was Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and recently the likes of Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial. Even David De Gea was a signing of similar ilk if one could recall – young, raw but bags of potential and considerably overpriced at the time. And to be honest, several of those players have gone on to play very important roles for United in the same way the club played for their careers. There have been the odd failure too – but no football club can claim to have a 100% successful transfer policy after all.
So, what do we know about Sanches other than the fact that he could do this with a football? Sanches, born and bred in Lisbon joined the famed academy of Benfica at the age of 9, quickly rose up the ranks and now plays for the senior team that could win the title this season with a 2 point lead at the summit now with three games to go. He has scored twice, two spectacular goals to say the least, in 31 appearances for the Lisbon giants. He plays central midfield with a physique that belies his age suggesting he could cope with the demands of what many consider a ‘largely physical’ league in the English top flight.
So, Sanches has scored two goals in 31 appearances in his debut season. Did that really convince Manchester United to ‘allegedly’ bid a sum of £35 million to sign the player in the first place? And what is the theory behind United’s relentless determination to sign the player for a higher amount now that the original bid was believed to be rejected? Portuguese football expert Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) claims United’s interest is genuine and something that has been thorough given the fact that they had sent scouts to watch the midfielder 22 games in a row. So, there should be some sort of thinking behind all this. At least this time.
The supposed transfer also hints at an new managerial arrival at the Manchester club. It’s no secret that Jose Mourinho was a huge admirer of Renato Sanches and wanted to sign him up for Chelsea whilst he was in charge there. So this could after all be orchestrated by the Portuguese himself? Or are United still guilty of letting Paul Pogba go on a free and watch him blossom into one of the best, if not the best midfielder at this moment? Is this another Woodward-fueled attempt to atone their error? For all we know, that’s just the kind of man Ed Woodward is so that should not come as a surprise.
Or are we missing something here? Are United actually building or shall we say rebuilding their spine? David De Gea, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and possibly Renato Sanches.
Are we seeing a pattern here?