If Manchester United's plan comes together, the lineup for their first match of the next Premier League season could look pretty special.
In midfield, Bruno Fernandes and Jack Grealish. In attack, Anthony Martial centrally, flanked by Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho. Suddenly, the side would look something like the force that once struck fear into every major club in Europe.
Rumours over the arrivals of Sancho and Grealish are rife—almost daily, there are new reports of how United are pursuing the pair. Sources have told Bleacher Report that their intent over the two players should be taken seriously: United mean business.
For all the mockery that has surrounded Old Trafford in recent seasons, senior figures are becoming genuinely optimistic about the future. There are signs of the team showing new life; recruitment has improved, and results are improving.
Since an embarrassing 2-0 home defeat to Burnley in January, which left many wondering whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time as manager was coming to an end, United have gone unbeaten.
In eight matches, they have kept six clean sheets, restored pride by beating Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, progressed in the FA Cup and are competing to qualifying for a UEFA Champions League position next season.
The signings of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Fernandes have made a clear difference to their identity, and word from those who work closely with the club is that more activity is on the way this summer.
Sancho and Grealish are on the radar—and both could end up at Old Trafford.
In a recent article on Sancho, we described how United are increasingly optimistic he could be the signing who turns around their fortunes.
Chelsea, Liverpool and even former club Manchester City are in the frame when it comes to discussing his next destination, but there are some interesting options United have at their disposal as they attempt to land him.
The basics of any financial details would see United make him the most expensive Premier League signing in history and pay him more in wages than any other club could offer, with Mike McGrath of the Telegraph reporting Sancho would land in advance of £200,000 per week.
The club might not have as much silverware in recent times, but they are leaning on three words they believe can help make a signing of this stature: History. Heritage. Pedigree.
One source simply told B/R: "Everyone wants to play for us."
That's not quite true given Erling Haaland recently opted to join Borussia Dortmund instead, but in general it does tend to be the case. B/R understands Bruno Fernandes even told Sporting CP bosses he would not join any other club.
Qualifying for the Champions League is important in landing Sancho—City's European ban for falling foul of UEFA's financial fair play rules might help on that front, as fifth place could be good enough for a spot in the competition.
United then have the extra incentive of being able to offer Sancho the famous No. 7 shirt—worn by greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Eric Cantona and George Best.
It was most recently worn by Alexis Sanchez, but that is expected to change next season, with United trying to find a buyer for the Chile international.
In terms of Sancho himself, B/R has been told by multiple sources that he loves the idea of joining. Yes, Champions League football is a factor—but if they make it, Old Trafford will become his top landing spot.
Aston Villa's Grealish has leapfrogged Leicester City's James Maddison as a midfield option for the summer transfer market, and the feeling is that the player will opt to move to a new club.
He's had a fantastic campaign, with seven goals and six assists in the Premier League despite Villa's precarious position. United even made initial inquiries about signing him in January. City are interested in Grealish, too, particularly as they look to boost their homegrown quota, but United are believed to be in the driving seat at this stage.
The trigger fee to make this deal happen is £60 million, and insiders indicate the player would be looking for a personal package of around £150,000 per week if he moves.
He fits United's remit of bringing in hungry, young, British talent. As poster boys, he and Sancho would also fit the club's global marketing team.
There is a real chance Paul Pogba leaves in the summer—United have even been contemplating a drop in his valuation to finally cut ties—and with Sanchez also set to depart, space will open for Sancho and Grealish as replacements.
In terms of the overall financial situation, United feel safe. The Maguire and Wan-Bissaka deals were complicated as the club had to pay the fees up front rather than across a period of time, which they would have preferred, yet B/R has been assured it will not affect their ambitious plans to continue rebuilding the squad.
There is a good chance that Grealish and Sancho will both line up for England at UEFA Euro 2020 this summer. That could be a good introduction for two men who, by then, may both be preparing for the next step in their careers at Manchester United.
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