Ed Woodward has spoken out for the first time since Manchester United’s season came to a halt. He has provided a warning about the state of the transfer market.

Woodward maintains United are in a strong financial position, but he also warned against an expectation of supremely high transfer fees.

We take that to mean one thing, forget about any ludicrous supposition from the media that Manchester United may splash £200 million on Harry Kane, as the Evening Standard had called for.

Woodward said, via BBC Sport, in an opening address to a United Fans’ Forum: “Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer.

“As ever our priority is the success of team, but we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.”

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Sancho move is still alive

Woodward’s message was one which had to be said. Until now United had been quiet on the state of the transfer market, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talked up the club’s strong position.

The truth is somewhere in between. United can afford to be more aggressive than other clubs, but don’t expect reckless moves, like a silly offer for an injury prone Harry Kane.

A move for Jadon Sancho is still very much alive. He was United’s long term target before the crisis, and there is no need to abandon course.

The difference is, United won’t be held to ransom. Woodward is making clear he won’t allow Dortmund to force the club to pay over market value.

New battle lines have been drawn

In the past Woodward has infamously made mistakes about talking up United’s budget. This has led to clubs taking advantage, and making United pay an extra premium for transfer targets. Perhaps he has learned his lesson.

Over the past year United have tried to be prudent on transfers and get their targets at the cheapest price possible.

It has been frustrating at times. The Aaron Wan-Bissaka negotiations dragged on for six weeks, but United will consider it worthwhile, having forced Crystal Palace to climb down from £65 million to £50 million.

In January a move for Bruno Fernandes was again painfully slow. But we got him in the end, for an initial £47 million rising to a maximum of £67 million. It was good business and good negotiating.

We have confidence United will land Sancho eventually. It just won’t be a case of sending £120 million directly to Borussia Dortmund.

Instead United will attempt to close a deal for the cheapest price possible.

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We wrote earlier this month how Dortmund’s own recent reported bid for Valencia’s Ferran Torres was far below his market value. They can’t have it both ways. They appear to believe the market is taking a big hit, and are offering money accordingly. They can’t expect £120 million for Sancho in the same breath.

United might end up paying up in the end. The tactics didn’t work with Harry Maguire last summer. Attempts to get him cheap didn’t work and after a wasted two months, we paid Leicester’s £80 million asking price. Perhaps it was worth trying anyway.

With Sancho, this may repeat. But United are digging in for now, and it is important to give the impression that we aren’t just going to pay anything.

Prepare for a long few months of negotiations ahead, and claim and counter claim, before hopefully, we secure Sancho in the end anyway. Possibly for even around £80-90 million.

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