Manchester United have spent £119million on three right-wingers in the past two summer transfer windows. This year they are looking for another as Erik ten Hag finally looks to balance an attack that has long lacked a specialist on the right side.
Jadon Sancho was hailed as a bargain when he arrived for £73m last summer, his hefty fee juxtaposed with the £108m Borussia Dortmund demanded a year earlier.
United had, indeed, saved £35million by standing in the market and been rewarded for their patience, but twelve months later and signing Sancho doesn’t quite look like the robbery it once did .
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Having missed out on Sancho in the 2020 window, United moved quickly to lure Amad and Facundo Pellistri to the club in hopes they would resolve their right wing problem. Club sources insisted the two were long-term goals and efforts were boosted to sign them both when it became abundantly clear that a deal for Sancho would not materialise. .
They represent an additional £46m investment which has yet to pay off, with the young forwards both disappointing on loan to lesser clubs this season.
After spending this much in one area of the pitch, it would be difficult to approve another right winger’s move this summer, although it is currently of interest to Ten Hag.
Instead, the club would be well within their rights to ask the new manager to make the most of those already at his disposal rather than spending more on an area of the pitch which may already have an internal response.
A key task for Ten Hag next season will be getting the best out of Sancho; more so, it will also be to make him an effective right winger in the Premier League.
Although he was signed to solve the problem, Sancho actually made 27 of his 38 appearances last season on the left wing. He did his best when he was able to cut inside, beat defenders and use wider angles to curve efforts towards goal instead.
Playing on the right wing, Sancho will have far fewer opportunities to do so and will instead have to switch to the inside channels if he is to make a significant impact in front of goal and will need to perfect outbound deliveries in the box.
While it may not be his favorite way to play at the moment, it’s crucial that Ten Hag manages to improve him in such a role next season, and that will be integral to whoever he picks up next season. ‘back right.
Part of the reason United have so often struggled on the right has as much to do with a lack of full-back support as it does with the shortcomings of their attacking options there.
Ten Hag has already told Aaron Wan-Bissaka he won’t be part of his plans next season as United have offered his services to other clubs, while Diogo Dalot has been told he still has a future at Old Trafford.
The move signals the Dutchman’s intention to offer more of an attacking threat from full-back and it is understood the club are also considering new right-backs if a suitable deal can be agreed this summer.
Both Man City and Liverpool have benefited enormously from having full-backs who can complement their attacking threat, and it’s clear that if United are to dominate more games next season they will need to modernize the way they use their wide defenders. .
This addition of a creative threat from right-back, one who can move forward to support the right winger with overlapping and overlapping runs in the final third, could in turn get the most out of Sancho by giving him the time and space to play in the inside channels and have a greater threat in front of goal.
Ten Hag may want to sign a new winger to balance his attack, but who he chooses in defense will be just as important.
Sancho might be fine after all.