We have heard it throughout the post-Sir Alex era. The often repeated media trope that ‘no Champions League football will mean top players won’t sign for United’.
In 2014 United disproved this, landing Angel di Maria in Radamel Falcao. They were two months which didn’t work out, but they showed United’s pulling power.
Last summer was a little different. Six years removed from Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, United’s ambition was not so big.
A move for Jadon Sancho was ‘nailed on’, BBC Sport reported, before we missed out on Champions League football.
This summer that worry is still there. The Sun claim Sancho could snub United without Champions League football. United’s hopes are precariously placed.
If the season ended now, United would require a ban for City, to get in.
Why the uncertainty helps
There is a strong case that the uncertain immediate future of this football season and next will help United land top players, which include Sancho.
Right now it is unclear what next season’s Champions League will even look like, with this season’s competition not yet completed.
Can qualifying rounds even go ahead? Will there be a full group stage?
What will the competition look like with no crowds?
Could travel restrictions hamper continental competition to the point where the tournament doesn’t even go ahead in 2020/21?
It is clear the competition will be compromised somehow, it’s just a case of how much.
So then it becomes a question to players like Sancho – why hold on for the hope of playing in a diluted competition in 2020/21?
This is the perfect time to move, with next season’s competition likely to be cut back.
The potential transfer targets should make the move to the club which is right for their careers, and not focus on the short-term limitations.
Obviously United would love to earn inclusion into the tournament next season. But if we do miss out, it shouldn’t stop players choosing to play for the club.
United are better financially equipped than most teams to ride out this storm, and unlike some, have come out of this crisis looking like a classy, well-operated club.
The attraction is clear, and a player like Sancho will have to recognise that 2020/21 is not going to be a normal season whether he stays or goes.
Instead he should make the long-term decision he reportedly wants, sign for United, use next season as an acclimatisation year, and help the club earn a place in the Champions League in 2021/22, when it should be ‘all systems go’ again.
If he lives up to his price tag, then qualifying for the tournament once he is in the team, should just be a formality.
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