Jadon Sancho is almost certain to leave Manchester United in January. There is both European and Saudi interest.
However, a lot of the European clubs want a ‘try before you buy’ type deal. This means a straight loan, or one with an option. Juventus are the latest club to consider Sancho, as Fabrizio Romano revealed.
Saudi clubs have considered Sancho before, and on September 7th Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq made a superficial enquiry. Manchester United wanted a loan with a £50m obligation to buy and this was out of Ettifaq’s budget.
Al-Hilal could be one to watch for Sancho. Their priority is to replace Neymar during his long-term ACL injury, but not necessarily with a like-for-like profile. They just want a goalscorer. Sancho hasn’t been tempted by a Saudi move in the past, but dealmakers aren’t put off by rejections…
This last point was apparent with Victor Osimhen, who was subject of an offer from Al-Hilal last summer. The Nigerian told the Obi One Podcast that every time an offer was turned down another was made and he eventually seriously considered joining.
“I never thought of [leaving in summer] at first,” he said. “But when this huge offer came from [Al-Hilal] it was tempting. It was a big one… I had three meetings and made up my mind to stick with the team.
“In August it was a huge decision for me to take. The more I said no to these people the more they increased their offer. It was literally like ‘wow’… they never gave up until the end of their transfer window.”
Saudi Pro League clubs are still likely to be busier in the summer rather than in January.
Casemiro and Kalvin Phillips are two targets for 2024. Tottenham’s Son remains on the list. He’s been there since last summer, as exclusively revealed last summer. Son has always dismissed links, but dealmakers always knew he wouldn’t leave in 2023.
Neymar, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mane all turned down initial approaches, yet all three eventually joined the Saudi Pro League and that’s why dealmakers continue to push even with targets that show little or no interest.
Richarlison could also be a name to watch, but multiple Saudi clubs are worried about his age. Al-Ettifaq are one of them. And, of course, Mo Salah remains a big summer target. There’s no guarantee it will be Al-Ittihad who return for the Egyptian. Al-Hilal is also a possibility.
Osimhen to Saudi is very unlikely now in 2024. Having turned down the…