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Europe: Dembele Warming to United, Barca Not so Keen

Attention turns to Spain with Sancho deal looking dead in the water...

FC Barcelona v Elche CF - Joan Gamper Trophy
Ousmane Dembele in action for Barcelona against Elche CF at the Camp Nou in September.
Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

It seems now impossible that Borussia Dortmund will not have Jadon Sancho in their ranks for one more season. The Bundesliga club are adamant the 20-year-old Englishman is going nowhere.

With just three more days to go to hold out before the transfer deadline shuts, the situation remains very much in their favour, however we’ve seen stranger things happen in the closing hours of deadline day.

United will retain hope but must at least share their main focus with other options, probably Ousmane Dembele, who appears to be warming to the idea of a move to Manchester. His international team-mate Paul Pogba has been in touch according to L’Equipe and some reports now even suggest Dembele is ‘enthusiastic’ about signing for the Red Devils.

Funnily enough Barcelona do not seem to be on board. It wouldn’t be a good transfer story without a huge degree of posturing and Barcelona sporting director Ramon Planes has denied any contact with United and played up Dembele’s value to the Catalan club.

“First of all, no negotiations with Manchester United at the moment,” he said. “Completely deny that. He’s a player we count on, we know his potential.

“We hope this year the team sees the best of him.”

It’s uncertain whether United prefer to take Dembele on loan, but if the appetite to go after Sancho is to continue into the season, then that would be the Old Trafford club’s preferred option.

Pogba is keen for Dembele to get on board and believes the pair together can be decisive in helping the team under Solskjaer to make the leap towards mounting a title challenge. The prospect of linking up with van de Beek, Fernandes, Rashford and Greenwood is also enticing for the Barca winger and there’s a couple of other francophones in the squad as well, in Anthony Martial and Eric Bailly.

Pogba hopes to convince Dembele that he’ll start as first choice at United, unlike at Barca where he’s dropped down the pecking order behind Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann, with Francisco Trincao pressing.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - Premier League
Paul Pogba (right) keen to see fellow Frenchman Dembele jump on board at United.
Photo by Glyn Kirk - Pool/Getty Images

There’s also the not so small matter of the Euros next year. French national team coach Didier Deschamps will want to see Dembele playing regularly at club level.

Another angle coming from ESPN sources suggests Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer is prepared to sell Welsh winger Daniel James to fund an increased late bid for Sancho, but has yet to convince the club’s hierarchy to sanction the sale of James.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward appears reluctant due to the negative message it sends out regards United’s desire to develop young talent. The Welshman has been there just over 12 months.

Leeds however appear keen to splash out £25m on James, so potential moves cannot be ruled out especially as Solskjaer and his backroom staff do not believe James will make an established Manchester United first-team player.

It looks like a busy weekend for all at Manchester United and there’s also the not so small matter of Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

There’s no easing of the pressure on Solskjaer these days. He needs to ensure his team triumphs over Spurs and hope that all the other back-room executives can get their acts together to deliver a quality reinforcement or three.

Personally, I wouldn’t be holding my breath, although the Dembele move could be the one that finally comes to fruition, probably as a twelve-month loan deal.