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Manchester United have already been forced to rejig their transfer puzzle — but what’s to say it won’t result in a brighter, all-round picture?
As a season like no other headed towards its business end, it looked for all the world that we were gearing up for one of the most exciting windows in recent memory.
Harry Kane to Manchester City, Erling Haaland to Manchester United.
It wasn’t even a dream scenario conjured up by Football Manager, or other top-selling computer games. Indeed, this was a genuine proposition. Only, it hasn’t quite turned out that way.
Edinson Cavani proved to be the catalyst, issuing a welcome u-turn on his own future as Old Trafford prepares to witness another campaign with the wily Uruguayan leading the line.
Just as he appeared set to board the plane back to South America, United were counting on utilising the relationship between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and compatriot Haaland to lure the Borussia Dortmund sensation to Old Trafford in light of competition from the usual suspects; namely Barcelona and Real Madrid.
That won’t be necessary this summer, nor may it be next.
Kane to City, meanwhile, has fallen into complications as a result of Pep Guardiola seemingly prioritising a swoop for his £100million international teammate Jack Grealish — once, too, on the United radar.
All of the above are examples of how quickly things can change in the cut-throat business of football transfers.
By passing on Haaland and to a lesser extend Kane, United have saved at least £120million this summer — and that has been carefully invested in other, arguably more important, areas of the squad.
Jadon Sancho is on board. In all-but writing, so is the highly-decorated Frenchman Raphael Varane.
Further high-profile signings might follow, of course, but a marquee No.9 is almost certainly not to.
Erling Haaland will be available for around £75million next summer. (Image: Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) And what an opportunity that presents for Mason Greenwood and Cavani himself.
Arguably, if the Matador was five years younger, none of this would be in question at all — but fast forward these next 12 months and Greenwood will have, no doubt, learned so much from the Uruguayan and the qualities which have made him such a feared goal-getter for more than a decade.
An undoubted talent, Greenwood is still learning his own craft; he is not going to be a direct replacement.
However, with Sancho in pole position to start on the right-hand side when Marcus Rashford returns from injury, there is a longer-term void to fill as the focal point of the United attack.
As a result of the Sancho transfer, Greenwood is expected to be restored to his preferred, central position.
It would be unreasonable to thrust too much pressure on the teenager, but the fact he has already clocked up 100 appearances for United – and is yet to turn 20 – speaks volumes about how highly he is regarded at Old Trafford.
A season packed full of goals and assists, from Greenwood, might just save United millions once again.
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