Man Utd face Champions League problem with Ismaila Sarr transfer after Jadon Sancho saga

Manchester United’s transfer deadline day saw them snap up the signings of Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri, Amad Diallo and Willy Kambwala – but not Jadon Sancho. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was unable to land a deal for his top target, who Borussia Dortmund demanded £108million for all summer.

United refused to pay that asking price and despite hoping Dortmund would drop their demands towards the end of the window, the Bundesliga club held firm and would not be pressured into selling the 20-year-old England international.

But if Solskjaer does still want a readymade right-sided winger to battle with Mason Greenwood and Daniel James, Premier League clubs can do business with EFL sides until October 16.

And United are known to have interest in Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, who was also looked at by Liverpool before they signed Diogo Jota from Wolves instead.

The Red Devils are thought to have had a deadline day bid rejected by Watford for Sarr consisting of an initial season-long loan with a £25million option to buy next summer.

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The Hornets don’t want to sell Sarr but if they were to, want a permanent deal with the money upfront and value the Senegalese wide-man at between £40m and £45m.

He only moved to Watford for a club-record fee of around £30m last summer and produced five goals and six assists in his first year in England.

And following the failed pursuit of Sancho, with a move for Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona also failing to come to fruition, Sarr is still available.

Yet United face a significant issue if they do still have designs on signing the 22-year-old before the domestic window closes too.

Teams playing in the Champions League have until midnight today to submit List A of their playing staff.

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This is a 25-player list which must include at least a minimum of eight locally-trained players, with four needing to have come through the club’s own youth system between the ages of 15 and 21.

List B can still be updated at any time up to midnight before a Champions League match but the crucial stipulation is that that list consists of players aged 21 or younger with at least two years’ training at their club.

UEFA’s registration rules mean that any player signed after the window for international deals closed at 11pm on Monday now cannot feature in the group stages of the Champions League or the Europa League.

And so if United want to sign Sarr, they will now not have him available for their six matches in the competition from October to December. 

If United are to agree a deal for the fleet-footed African, they will have to wait until the January window to register him to play in the Champions League, provided Solskjaer’s charges qualify for the knockout stages.

Yet having signed teenage wingers Pellistri and Diallo, although the latter will not arrive from Atalanta until January in a deal that could eventually cost United £37m, United may not want to sign another forward anyway.


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They have agreed to pay around £19m up front for left-sided Diallo, 18, with another £18m in performance-related add-ons for the Ivory Coast youngster.

While Uruguayan winger Pellistri, signed from Penarol for around £10m, can go into straight into Solskjaer’s squad and be an option out wide.

Whether United make a fresh attempt to sign Sarr remains to be seen but that he could not play in the Champions League would be a problem given the club’s ambitions to be a real competitor in Europe once again and particularly with the UEFA competition allowing five substitutions, unlike the Premier League.

That does mean Solskjaer could still pursue the Watford attacker with the view to letting Greenwood nail down the right flank in the Champions League with the pair then competing for minutes in the league and domestic cup competitions.

But it appears more than likely that instead United’s business, at least in terms of incomings, is done until January.

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