Manchester United held secret talks with Erling Haaland before Euro 2020, according to reports. And that’s despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer making Jadon Sancho his top transfer target for the summer window. A deal for the England international is close, four years after Jose Mourinho first attempted to secure the forward’s signature.
Both Haaland and Sancho were in devastating form for Borussia Dortmund last term, helping the club win the DFB-Pokal trophy.
Norway international Haaland bagged 40 goals across all competitions and topped the scoring charts in the Champions League, despite his side exiting the competition in the quarter-finals.
Sancho, meanwhile, managed 30 goal involvements for the third season on the trot – enhancing his reputation as one of the best young players in world football.
United are nearing a deal for Sancho, with the club confident they’ll finally land the 21-year-old four years after Mourinho first showed interest.
But, despite that, The Sun have revealed they held talks with Haaland before the European Championships.
The 20-year-old had initially been earmarked as a top target for Solskjaer, only for Edinson Cavani’s new contract to change things.
EURO 2020: England’s five positives, two negatives from Czech Republic win
Yet while United talked with Haaland, the publication states the striker would prefer to join La Liga titans Real Madrid instead.
Dortmund aren’t willing to let more players join Sancho out of the exit door, with the club also looking to keep hold of Jude Bellingham as interest in the teenager rises.
And United are expected to go after Haaland next summer, instead of now, with Solskjaer focusing on other areas of his squad instead.
At centre-back, Raphael Varane is their top target.
The France international could leave Real Madrid after Euro 2020, despite the recent departure of Sergio Ramos.
United have admired Varane for over a decade, with Ed Woodward telling confidants back in 2018 he was willing to sanction a £100million move for the defender.
Pogba price set as Man Utd settle on replacement
Barcelona’s strong XI with Ronaldo and two other signings
England have four players in danger after Czech Republic Euro 2020 win
As a backup option, United are continuing talks over a potential deal for Pau Torres – who sparkled for Villarreal as they won the Europa League last term.
United want a right-back to galvanise Aaron Wan-Bissaka, with interest in Kieran Trippier well-documented.
And the club are keeping tabs on the situations of Declan Rice, Jack Grealish and Cristiano Ronaldo as they look to bolster the squad.
Meanwhile, speaking recently, former United star Wes Brown expressed a belief just three signings would be required for his old side to challenge for the Premier League title.
“I’ve definitely seen an improvement at Manchester United in the past 12 months or so,” he said.
THINK YOU KNOW SPORT? Test your sporting knowledge with our tricky quiz
“On their day they can beat any team in the world, I just think they struggle to perform in the games where you’d expect them to win.
“Sometimes I think we were guilty of being a little bit short in midfield and the back-line has changed quite a lot throughout the season. Normally you have your two centre-halves set in stone and you build from there.
“Ole should be looking at three key areas where he can strengthen the first-team, and that’s with a new centre-back, a midfielder and a striker.
“The club needs to lose a few players as well, and I know that’s sometimes easier said than done, but they’ve got to make some room for new arrivals.
“They definitely need a strong midfielder to come in and play week-in and week-out.
“I thought the club managed alright last season up-front but I’d still say they need a big name up there – especially for when someone like Anthony Martial isn’t fit.
“Whenever one of our attackers got the slightest knock, we really struggled. You’re looking around at the bench and thinking ‘where’s our Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?’ That player who can make a difference. There just needs to be a bit of strength in depth in that area.
“I probably went to every home game last season, and I have to say it was really disappointing at times.
“Away from home the team were fantastic, like they were playing with no fear, but at home they seemed to really struggle.
“We never really got our rhythm going; but if that changes, then it’s a completely different story. You’d hope the return of fans has a positive impact in those results at Old Trafford next season.”