Manchester United will need to be creative to maximise their ability to strengthen in this summer’s transfer window amid the financial constraints of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Reds must sign an experienced central defender, quality creative midfield option and forward before they can seriously compete with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title.
As reported by the Guardian, United are already showing initiative in their attempts to meet Borussia Dortmund’s asking price for priority target Jadon Sancho.
The Guardian claims United and Dortmund are close to agreeing a £90m package that would be paid over three annual instalments plus performance-related add-ons.
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish is another reported target identified by Solskjaer this summer, but the asking price suggested for the midfielder makes the deal unlikely if Sancho is to arrive at Old Trafford.
According to the Mirror, Villa’s obstinate co-owner Nassef Sawiris will not let the club’s talisman go for a fee below £80m this summer despite interest from United.
The chances of United matching this asking price are minute but there are other ways the club could negotiate a transfer for Grealish.
Solskjaer wants to accelerate his rebuild this summer and that involves jettisoning players that are surplus to requirements.
United have a chance to offload two unwanted players to Aston Villa which may pique interest from the Midlands club as they look to strengthen themselves.
Telegraph journalist Matt Law generated a debate on twitter on Thursday morning by suggesting he’d take Jessie Lingard and the forlorn Phil Jones at Villa Park.
Potentially unpopular opinion. I'd take both Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones at Villa. Good ages, bags of top level experience and loads left in the tank. Jones injury record would worry me, but I've always rated him. I also have no idea whether or not this would be realistic.
— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) August 6, 2020
The Independent notes that Lingard and Jones are among six players that Solskjaer will look to move on this summer, and the pair could offer United the perfects makeweights in their pursuit of Grealish.
Jones, meanwhile, is admittedly less desirable and is valued at just over £6m by Transfermarkt after making just two league starts this season.
But the 28-year-old is an experienced England international who could still thrive with a run of games at another club if he can avoid injury.
Of course, there is nothing to suggest Villa boss Dean Smith has expressed an interest in either of United’s fringe players, but they would definitely improve his squad.
The combination of Jones and Lingard alone wouldn’t tempt Villa into a sale of their totemic figure but they would significantly reduce the amount of up front cash United would need to pay to secure Grealish’s signature.