World-class players do not come cheap. They never have, they never will.
Manchester United know this all too well having already stumped up £72.9million to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund this summer.
But with the financial impact of coronavirus and a season played almost entirely behind closed doors still unfolding, sanctioning big-money transfers often requires sacrifices elsewhere – even for Europe’s largest clubs.
As such, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and director of football John Murtough will need to part ways with first-team stars if they are to complete the signing of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid before the start of the new Premier League season.
Varane, 28, is expected to move to Old Trafford for an initial fee of £35million plus add-ons, giving Solskjaer the centre-back partner for Harry Maguire he has craved for over two years.
The French World Cup winner has less than one year remaining on his contract with Los Blancos but the significant fee United are willing to pay is testament to his quality.
To help balance the books, Solskjaer has placed eight players on the transfer list who will be sold should suitable offers are tabled.
That’s according to ESPN , which claims the eight players facing the axe are Anthony Martial, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Brandon Williams, Diogo Dalot, Alex Telles, Phil Jones, and Andreas Pereira.
The out-of-favour players who could command the largest transfer fees are likely to be Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.
Martial has slipped down the pecking order since Edinson Cavani’s arrival and will face further competition for minutes following Sancho’s transfer, but at 25 he still has time to fulfil his potential.
Lingard, meanwhile, was one of the standout performers in the Premier League last season after a dazzling spell on loan at West Ham which saw his market value skyrocket.
Defenders who may depart for more modest fees include injured outcast Phil Jones, Alex Telles, Diogo Dalot and Brandon Williams.
Telles has failed to convince since his arrival from Porto last summer, Dalot has suitors in Italy after spending last season on loan at AC Milan and Williams is heavily linked with a loan to Southampton.
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That leaves winger Daniel James and midfielder Andreas Pereira, who are firmly out of Solskjaer’s first-team frame.
Meanwhile, as well as signing Varane, United are also expected to target recruits in midfield and at right-back.
The Red Devils are keen admirers of Atletico Madrid and England star Kieran Trippier to provide competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, while they are also believed to be rivalling Liverpool for his teammate Saul Niguez.