Manchester United battle for Jadon Sancho could shape league for years to come

There was a time when Manchester United and Chelsea fought for it all. Both teams had steel, ruthless managers and financial backing. Now as Sky Sports report, both yearn for Jadon Sancho, England’s Dortmund-based starlet who eyes a Premier League return.

The battle for Sancho is a microcosm of a wider conflict between these two clubs. As much as defeats for both have jeopardized it, they will likely compete for the final top-four spot. He who wins could change the shape of the Premier League landscape.

In the current environment of English and European football, it’s a cause perhaps more important than ever for these sides. The big teams are getting bigger and more successful than ever. Only a few more barren years for United and they will be in danger of exiting that group.

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United and Chelsea both linked with Sancho

The latest focus on Jadon Sancho only sharpens this further. Good planning and effective recruitment from Chelsea mean they’ll be ready. The Blues have clinched a move to sign Ziyech from Ajax, a cheaper alternative. They’ll likely still try their hand at Sancho.

This is really about the top four. Ed Woodward will invariably argue that United have a unique pulling power, and so will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But both will quickly find themselves lamenting the day they were so complacent. Big players do not join clubs outside the Champions League. And when they do, you pay them a fortune.

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So this season is a big one. If it does come down to Chelsea vs United in the battle for Sancho, it may just depend on who finished fourth in the recent season. Maybe it’s not quite that simple with Sancho, but whoever snatches fourth is propelled upwards. They become a club with the potential to challenge Liverpool next season. The other suffers the potential of an extended stay in the periphery.

Liverpool are the real threat and could condemn United to further pain

Is all this the meaningless cries and battle of the small fish, though?

The Mail report Liverpool will also be in for Sancho. They want him. They’ve got the money. Dortmund have a good relationship with manager Jurgen Klopp and the club has a recently-signed deal with Nike, Sancho’s sponsor.

Perhaps the ship has already dropped its painter and set sail. United could be left at the harbour and they don’t know it yet. If Sancho joins Liverpool it’s further proof that United no longer have the draw they so arrogantly assume. They need Champions League football.

Chelsea are in a similar scenario, though they have had more success in recent years. The Blues are highly-dependent on the revenues that being in the Champions League brings.

More so than United, but the financial reports of the last few years demonstrate that United are suffering heavily from missing out on Europe’s elite club competition. This season could be the tipping point and Jadon Sancho and his future may epitomize it all.

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Life-long Manchester United fan with a strong interest in the club's academy. Host of the Manchester United Weekly Podcast and United Through Time. First game at Old Trafford was the 7-1 rout of AS Roma in 2007.