Manchester United is dealing with ‘rogue stock’. Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial are the stars.
“The Red Devils want to recoup their £50 million transfer fee for Sancho and Anthony, who joined the club for a hefty fee,” the Evening Standard reported on Feb. 22, adding that the club has made a counter-offer to the Saudi Professional League to get rid of the two players.
Sancho and Anthony arrived at United with huge expectations, but so far they’ve been disappointing.
First, Sancho was considered a top prospect since his youth days. He spent time at Manchester City Youth, but failed to make his debut for the Red Devils and ended up in Dortmund’s colors. Sancho then left Dortmund for Manchester United with 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 games. At the time, Sancho’s transfer fee was £73 million, so expectations were high.
But it wasn’t to be. In his first season at United, Sancho made 38 appearances, scoring five goals and providing three assists. His first season was plagued by injuries and acclimatization issues. The same was true in the Eric ten Hagg regime. In 26 league games last season, he only managed six goals and three assists.
This season has been even worse. Sancho has only appeared as a substitute this season. He started three games, but only played 76 minutes. He was effectively classified as a non-factor. He had a falling out with Van Gaal. “I watched him in training and I didn’t pick him. At United, we demand a certain level every day and you have to be up to it. That’s why I didn’t pick him for this game.”
Sancho fired back on social media. He later deleted the post on social media, but the club removed him from first-team training. Sancho was left out of the first team and didn’t play. He looked elsewhere in the winter transfer window, eventually joining his hometown club Dortmund on loan.
The same goes for Anthony. Anthony represented United in the ‘Ten Haag regime’. He rose to prominence in the Dutch league. He came up through the ranks at ‘prestigious’ Ajax and broke through under Van Gaal. In 2021-22, he scored 12 goals and provided eight assists in 33 games, including cup competitions, and in 2022-23, he scored two goals and provided two assists in three games before joining United.
United spent a lot of money to keep him. The base fee alone was close to 100 million won, and with all the options, it reached 100 million euros (about $144 billion). He wasn’t a household name, but United fans were excited to see what he could do.
Indeed, his early performances were decent. He made a strong impact, opening the scoring against the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal. After his debut, he scored in three consecutive league games. It looked like United had a new ‘ace’ on their hands.
But then he went into a slump. His tempo-destroying dribbling and tendency to rely too heavily on his left foot made him easy for defenders to pick out. He managed just eight goals and three assists last season, including in cup competitions, and has yet to register a single offensive point in 22 games this season.
As a result, United want to get rid of both players. No team in Europe is willing to spend a combined £100 million for the two players, so they have turned to Saudi Arabia. United director John Murtagh traveled to Saudi Arabia, the host country of the Club World Cup, last month and reportedly met with local soccer officials.