Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will face the same problems as Chelsea rival Frank Lampard if he adds Jadon Sancho to his first-team squad this summer. That’s what former Chelsea and France defender Frank Labeouf thinks.
United are keen to add Sancho to their ranks but are refusing to match Borussia Dortmund’s huge £108million valuation of the winger.
The 20-year-old is said to be keen on the idea of a move to Old Trafford and has reportedly agreed personal terms but will refuse to push for an exit at Dortmund.
Sancho has spent three successful seasons with the Bundesliga club and while United have greater wages on offer, will not create a messy transfer saga out of respect for Dortmund.
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Yet if United do manage to clinch a deal for the England international, Labeouf thinks Sancho would add another significant issue for Solskjaer.
He believes the Norwegian already faces a headache over where to deploy Paul Pogba in midfield after signing £40m Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek.
The attack-minded Dutchman is a near certain starter once he settles, as is the brilliant Bruno Fernandes, and Labeouf thinks Pogba may be sacrificed in favour of the more disciplined Nemanja Matic with Solskjaer commonly deploying a midfield trio.
Lebeouf believes Solskjaer is set to encounter many of the same problems as Chelsea’s Lampard, who has overseen a £200m-plus summer outlay to sign the likes of Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner.
Such a spend gives the Blues a wealth of high-quality attacking options, although it means some of the Chelsea forwards who starred last season could be starved of regular minutes this term.
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And United signing Sancho, who would be their new first-choice option on the right wing, would similarly limit minutes for 18-year-old attacker Mason Greenwood, who scored 17 first-team goals last season.
Labeouf believes that would present another complication given Greenwood’s post-restart performances in the previous campaign arguably mean he warrants a starting spot this year.
“It’s going to be difficult for him. It’s going to be a real challenge,” the World Cup-winning ex-defender told ESPN FC of the season awaiting Solskjaer as United look to contend for the title.
“He will have to prove that he’s as powerful [a coach] as we hope he is. He will have to sort out the problem with Paul Pogba.
“Bruno Fernandes plays with Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek, where’s Pogba going to be? On the bench? Good luck Mr Solskjaer.
“What’s going to happen with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford’s mood? If Sancho signs, what are you going to do with Mason Greenwood?
“Frank Lampard has some trouble with the bench and some players won’t play. It’s going to be the same thing for Solskjaer.
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“How’s he going to sort out the problem? The main problem is going to be Paul Pogba, for sure.
“Where is his position going to be? We know he was a problem a year ago and that problem is going to come back.”
Don Hutchison disagrees, however, and believes adding Sancho to put the tricky wide-man straight into the starting side would help United then boast stronger options off the bench.
He countered: “I could quite easily see a midfield of Pogba, Fernandes and Van de Beek as the No 10, that’s where he likes to play, he likes to run forward and he’s got fantastic energy.
“I think the problem for Ole is, which is inevitable for where he’s at in this managerial stage with the players that he’s got, is you can pick a United eleven, their strongest 11, but then when you need to change a game or change tactics apart from Dan James, the bench is not that strong.
“Even though Juan Mata has been an exceptional player [in his career], the out-of-form Jesse Lingard, they’re not guys you can bring off the bench to change a game.
“Sancho, all of a sudden if he comes in and he pushes Greenwood and Rashford gets pushed more, Martial gets pushed more, it creates more depth so he can then make changes.
“At the moment they’re 11 strong but he needs a little bit more quality.”
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