Ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League semi-final, Sevilla boss Julien Lopetegui described the club as the ‘biggest team in the world’ [SkySports].
It’s a line United’s commercial team will often wheel out to fans, or investors, despite the lack of recent on pitch success.
So if United are so big, why do the club keep getting bested by a German team who have not won a league title since 2012?
You could almost set those aside, disappointing as they were, with the belief United would take Dortmund’s star asset away this summer, Jadon Sancho, and exert their strength in the process.
As it stands, United have bodged the pursuit of Sancho, failing to meet the German club’s deadline of August 10.
While United may believe Dortmund are bluffing, the German side are taunting the Red Devils.
It is not a good look for United to have been so publicly defeated over two transfer targets, and seemingly a third, all by the same club.
The club either lacks the pull it once did, or the higher-ups running United are incapable. Both may be true.
If the Haaland deal was unfortunate, and understandable given the mammoth agent fees paid to Mino Raiola and his dad, reported by Marca, if the striker really wanted to sign with United, he would have done so.
Haaland and Bellingham saw Dortmund as a better fit from a development point of view, but Sancho has already had two seasons learning his craft.
This was the summer he was primed to move on for a new challenge, yet Dortmund have outmaneuvered United when it comes to negotiating.
Do United need a ‘win’ over Dortmund?
It is debate whether United actually do need to get the better of Dortmund, when other deals can be done elsewhere.
The German side would surely love to generate a record transfer fee on their terms, for the financial health of their club in this current climate.
If United go and pay up to sign other top transfer targets, it will not matter as much. The Red Devils are a Champions League club again, and should continue to build, Sancho or no Sancho.
For positive PR and optics, it would be great for United to get the better of a club who have become a major thorn in our side over the past year.
Haaland and Bellingham were two players the club pursued intensely, and long-term alternatives have not been found.
In the future, United may seek to take advantage of the buyout clause in Haaland’s deal and swipe him away for the £63 million it is possible to do so when it becomes active in 2022 [Standard].
A desire to one-up Dortmund may prompt United to return to the negotiating table over Sancho with renewed vigour.
While Dortmund will feel a staggering fee for Sancho to be a success, for United there is only one route to victory, and that is by signing the player.
Being forced to look elsewhere will mean admitting defeat.
The biggest club in the world? Not when you are second best to the second best team in Germany.
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