Manchester United have sent a message to the rest of the Premier League with their high-profile move to sign Jadon Sancho, says Steve McClaren.
Former United assistant and England manager McClaren feels Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men can now field a formidable attacking unit even though there are still some calls for them to sign a new centre-forward.
United and Borussia Dortmund have agreed a deal in principle for the transfer of Sancho, which is worth around £73million and expected to be completed after his involvement in Euro 2020.
Sancho scored 50 goals and provided 57 assists in 137 appearances across all competitions for Dortmund, with United poised to finalise the deal one year on from their initial frustrating and ultimately failed pursuit.
Last season, the 21-year-old became the first Englishman to reach at least 10 assists for three straight campaigns in Europe’s top-five leagues since former United star David Beckham in 2001.
Indeed, only Thomas Muller (48) and Lionel Messi (43) have managed to provide more assists at that league level since the start of the 2018-19 campaign than Sancho (41).
Sancho also impressed for England in their 4-0 Euros quarter-final win over Ukraine, having been handed his first start of the tournament.
United won the treble during McClaren’s time at the club and he insists they now have the quality to compete for all competitions.
“I say it’s a marker for the rest of the league,” McClaren told Stats Perform about the signing of Sancho.
“They’ve chased Sancho for a while and he just adds to the attacking line-up that they’ve already got.
“Yes, okay, they need a striker, everybody says that – but you also need speed on the wings and some creativity.
“They have got Mason Greenwood, they have got Marcus Rashford and they have got Daniel James. Now they have Sancho, they are going to be in everything.
“Yes, you need to keep clean sheets, you need to do that. But also, to win tournaments, to win trophies, you need to be good on the ball.
“You need to be a threat and you need a front four that can terrorise the opponents.
“Imagine now you have got Rashford, Sancho, Greenwood, you have got Edinson Cavani, Bruno Fernandes – Paul Pogba behind, there is some creativity there, they have got to win soon.”
Pogba is a player who faces an uncertain future with just 12 months to run on his contract.
He produced an impressive season for United in 2020-21 and followed it up with a starring role for France at Euro 2020, culminating in a stunning goal before the world champions went on to lose against Switzerland on penalties in the last 16.
McClaren was impressed with Pogba and urged United to find a way to keep the central midfielder.
“Yeah, I think Ole gets the best of him,” he said. “I think he’s great for that team.
“The team like him, you can see that, and he can win football matches. He can play passes through to strikers that nobody else can play.
“So as long as you can handle that player, and the rest of the team accept it, which they have, he’s a great asset for any team.”
McClaren liked what he saw from Pogba at the Euros, though was not impressed by France as a unit.
He added: “It is a little bit like with Raheem Sterling for England, I think exactly the same for France – he is the man.
“Pogba has to be the man and he’s one of the three or four main men in their team and they need him to perform very well.
“He played the best passes of the tournament [from] deep sliding Kylian Mbappe through and things like that.
“But the French didn’t play with intensity, didn’t play as a team. They never had that toughness of the past in or out of possession – no urgency. They didn’t have that intensity.
“And they couldn’t defend – normally the French defend very well, they won the World Cup defending very, very well in a 4-3-3 with excellent speed on the break.
“They didn’t do that, they were fragmented. As a team, they were never compact. There were gaps or holes in their defence and that’s very unusual for France.
“It is normal when you dominate for a while. If you come off it in a tournament by even five or 10 per cent you are going to lose, you’re going to get beat and subconsciously they probably did that.
“Their star player Mbappe, who they put everything into, never scored a goal and missed the final penalty. So, it was in the stars that France were in trouble.”
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