Borussia Dortmund accept transfer fees will fall this summer as Manchester United aim to land Jadon Sancho in a cut-price deal.
The German club, who resume action this weekend following the coronavirus shutdown, had long maintained they would stick to their £100million-plus valuation of the winger.
But even they now acknowledge the devastating financial impact Covid-19 has had on football.
United are reluctant to pay above £60-70m on any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s targets this summer, although the Norwegian has been assured they will remain competitive and active in the market as he looks to secure at least three major signings.
Sancho is the primary target, with Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Jude Bellingham and a striker all on his wanted list.
It remains to be seen if Dortmund will be prepared to take such a hit on Sancho – and even if they are, it is likely to become one of the main sagas once the window opens for business.
The same could be said for Leroy Sane’s proposed move to Bayern Munich, with the former Manchester City team-mates on course to set the barometer for transfers in a post-coronavirus market.
Ed Woodward’s warning last month that it would not be “business as usual” at United sent shockwaves around the game.
Not least at Dortmund, who had been banking on United’s spending power in their bid to demand top money for Sancho.
Old Trafford’s hierarchy had not been frightened off by the prospect of paying a British-record fee for the England international – nor, for that matter, had Chelsea.
But even they have had to rethink their plans since sport was placed on lockdown, with behind-closed-doors games the only hope of seeing it resume.
While Sancho remains high in their plans, it’s understood internal discussions over the 20-year-old were pushed to the background as focus switched to helping in the fight against coronavirus.
When an official bid finally materialises, it will be significantly less than Dortmund’s expectations.
Even then, United will be wary of setting a benchmark that could be used against them in negotiations for other targets.
Bayern are similarly playing hard ball over Sane.
City’s valuation of around £130m from last summer will have to drop dramatically.
While they laughed off suggestions that Bayern will attempt to land the Germany winger for £35m, they will face a fight to command as much as half their asking price from 12 months ago.
City’s hand is further weakened by Sane entering the final year of his contract, but if they do strike a deal with Bayern, it is certain to inform United’s pursuit of Sancho – or vice versa.
It presents an intriguing scenario where Germany’s biggest rivals, as well as the Manchester neighbours, are left taking cues from each other to set the tone for a transfer window that is being approached by Europe’s leading clubs with extreme caution.