Manchester United want a right-side forward added to their squad before the transfer window slams shut on Monday. Jadon Sancho continues to remain their top target and the Red Devils are still hopeful that they can work out a deal to sign him from Borussia Dortmund in the next four days.
The Frenchman has always been Manchester United’s plan B to Sancho and the club are now putting in the groundwork to make a move for him if they fail to sign the 20-year-old England winger.
Sancho was curiously left out of the Dortmund squad against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night due to an unknown illness. There are suggestions that the winger is finally pushing Dortmund to let him join Manchester United. Whether this tactic will work or not, only time will tell.
But Manchester United are preparing to move on to their plan B if negotiations with Dortmund continue to stall. But is Ousmane Dembele the player they need or will he suit the culture that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to foster at Old Trafford?
Ousmane Dembele has been bogged down by injuries and disciplinary issues
Barcelona paid a whopping €105m and another €40m in add-ons to snare Ousmane Dembele away from Dortmund in 2017 following a protracted transfer saga.
BVB were not willing to sell a player who they bought the previous summer for Rennes but the money was too good to turn down and the Frenchman more or less went on a strike to push through the transfer.
The Catalan giants wanted to make a statement in the market after losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in an embarrassing fashion and Dembele was the marquee signing. But the winger has struggled in his first three years at the Nou Camp.
Staying fit has been a real issue for Dembele since he joined the Catalan giants and he has missed a whopping 80 games in the last three seasons due to various muscle injuries.
The Frenchman has rarely managed to get a run of games in the starting eleven before getting struck by another injury problem. It has been a running theme and has left many at Barcelona frustrated.
But that is not the only issue that has stopped Dembele from kicking on at Barcelona. The rumblings around his disciplinary issues have never gone away at the Nou Camp.
He has been fined on numerous occasions for turning up late for training and many feel his lifestyle is not suited for a professional football. There are suggestions that his love for playing video games often keeps him up late at night and that has led to the numerous transgressions when it comes to arriving on time for training.
Ousmane Dembele is still only 23 and remains a highly talented footballer when fit. But the problems surrounding his fitness and lifestyle has put a perpetual question mark about the possibility of him realising his full potential in the game.
Ousmane Dembele could be the wrong guy for Manchester United at the moment
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s signings have more or less worked out and he has got the big calls right in the transfer market since last year. The Manchester United manager has often elaborated what he wants from his new signings – the right player, the right character and the desire to play for Manchester United.
Cultural reboot has been the buzzword at Old Trafford since Solskjaer signed a permanent contract last year and the fresh arrivals at Manchester United have the mark of what the Norwegian wants from his players.
But will Ousmane Dembele fit that cultural reboot? From the outside, it feels like the wrong signing for Manchester United.
Dembele’s injury problems are well-chronicled and even if the club keep him for only a year, it could still be a drain on their resources. Manchester United want a real option on the right-wing and not someone who fitness issues make him unreliable and someone who Solskjaer would struggle to count upon.
The Frenchman also doesn’t want to leave Barcelona and Manchester United have the example of Angel Di Maria to know what could happen if a player is made to leave a big club against his will.
While the French contingent of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial could make life more palatable for Dembele in rainy Manchester, he would still be a player who was more or less forced out of Barcelona.
The modalities of the deal are also not working out for Manchester United at the moment. Barcelona are only interested in selling him and a loan move has been ruled out.
If Manchester United miss out on Jadon Sancho before Monday, they would still harbour hopes of signing him in January or next summer and that is why their plan B is likely to be a short to medium-term option.
A loan deal works out for Manchester United as if Dembele shines at Old Trafford, he could be snapped up for a transfer fee next year or sent back to Barcelona. But they are being a bit clever and a half and for the moment Barcelona are not willing to play ball.
It just seems like a wrong deal to do for Manchester United at the moment and there could be better short term options available in the market than Ousmane Dembele at the moment.