So what is the real story behind Ed Woodward and United’s desire to sign Renato Sanchez?
If you believe the Manchester United side of things, Bayern Munich have signed a pup. Renato Sanches, according to United, just isn’t worth the money. One claim had United dropping their interest in the Benfica tyro as far back as February. The other had Louis van Gaal dismissing the 18 year-old as being little more than a flash-in-the-pan.
So, let’s tackle these claims.
First, if United had gone cold on Sanches almost four months ago, then why was LuÌs Filipe Vieira, the Benfica president, in Manchester a fortnight ago? On a shopping trip? Tribalfootball.com was informed a fee had been agreed – and for less than what Bayern has since paid (more on that later). The sticking point was the method of payment. Vieira was insisting on the bulk of the fee being paid up front. With debts of over Ä200 million, Vieira saw Sanches as a vehicle to draw that down. But Woodward, United’s vice-chairman exec, insisted on a more traditional staggered deal. Vieira, as we see today, left empty handed.
The second claim; Van Gaal’s decision to block the deal. Suggestions that Sanches isn’t good enough. Seriously, United leakers, you need to do better than this. We’re talking about Bayern here, not Bayer. Though Leverkusen have done quite well this season from LVG’s decision-making, hey…?
Diego Simeone has publicly declared his admiration for the lad. As has Pep Guardiola. And it was on Guardiola’s successor, Carlo Ancelotti’s insistence that Bayern sign Sanches. In terms of endorsement and credibility, can a young player do any better in the game?
Ancelotti, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Franz Beckenbauer, these are all great football – and Bayern – men. Matthias Sammer, due to health issues, wasn’t at the pointy end of this deal, but will still have had some input. How does United, with Woodward and Van Gaal, match such a line up?
While he doesn’t have the profile of Bayern’s major powerbrokers, this deal – and the speed with which it was achieved – owed everything to Bayern’s technical director, Michael Reschke. Only in his second season in Munich, he was tempted away from Bayer after 35 years at the club. Who at United, beyond Van Gaal, can boast the same experience and know-how?
So who are we going to believe when it comes to judging a player? Van Gaal and United? Or the 100-plus years of football experience at Bayern? The club that will boast just one Champions League campaign in three years? Or the one that has reached the semifinals of the competition over the same period?
Give us a break…
The key to this deal was cash power and status. Both of which is in decline at United.
As United stalled negotiations, Bayern saw an opening and swooped in. Vieira’s original demands were met – and more. A Ä45 million fee was confirmed on both sides. But in Munich, they’re saying Sanches’ price could rise to Ä80 million in bonuses – similar to the deal United struck with AS Monaco for Anthony Martial.
But that agreement was found with United having banked the cash from qualifying for the Champions League. This season, there was no such guarantee and as Woodward was forced to put Vieira off, in stepped Reschke and Rummenigge.
At United, news of those 15 per cent pay-cuts across all departments emerged well before their top four status had been decided. To miss out on the Champions League again clearly means having to compromise squad building this summer.
And what of the player, himself? It was assumed that as Sanches was on the books of Jorge Mendes, he’d jump at the chance of joining United. That is, if Jose Mourinho was to succeed Van Gaal. But in the end, personalities didn’t come into it. United couldn’t get a deal over the line. Bayern simply outbid them.
Sanches was offered a stark choice: sign with a perennial title winner or wait on a promise from a falling, near drowning, English giant. With Benfica needing the cash, there was a nudge in the Munich direction. But Sanches needed little encouragement. Woodward and Van Gaal made it all so easy.
Of course, Sanches is in good company. And the barbs coming from United do sound eerily similar to what was claimed about a certain French lad four years ago…
Paul Pogba, anyone?
Contributed by Chris Beattie of Tribalfootball.com