ARTICLES Opinion

Who could Jadon Sancho line up alongside in Manchester United’s front three?

Manchester United bolstered their attacking options with the agreement to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund last week. With 121 goals in the 2020/21 campaign, The Reds scored the most in a single season since 2006/07, which suggests that they already had an impressive frontline.

While Anthony Martial was misfiring, the likes of Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood had impressive individual campaigns — being able to add the creative flair of Sancho will excite many United supporters, it is likely that the star will be heavily involved for The Reds next season.

This will give Ole Gunnar Solskjær a positive dilemma, who has a plethora of options in his front three. While 57 goal contributions came from either Cavani (22) or Rashford (35), it is likely that neither will be able to be available for the entire campaign.

With the English international set to have an operation on his shoulder following Euro 2020, there are question marks whether he will be fit for the beginning of the Premier League campaign. Meanwhile, although El Matador has signed with The Reds for an extra season, Andy Mitten has reported that the club expects the veteran striker to play around 60% of games next season because of his age.

If United are going to compete on all fronts – which seems to be something that Solskjær prefers to do – it is likely that we are going to see some different options in the front three. Here are some of the different options that we can expect to start alongside Jadon Sancho in the United front three next season.

Option 1 — Rashford, Cavani, Sancho

We had to start with this one, didn’t we?

Even though The Reds will likely not start the season with this trio, many fans would argue that this is the best possible frontline that United could field when all three are fully fit.

As we’ve seen throughout the England camp this summer, it’s clear that Rashford and Sancho have a good relationship off the pitch and we can hope to expect that they have a similar one on it too. While both of the wide men are comfortable on either side of the pitch, it’ll be likely that in this set-up we’d see United’s number ten off of his preferred left flank while Sancho operated from the right side.

It would also be very interesting to see Sancho play alongside the former PSG striker, who is known for his incredible movement in and around the penalty area. The winger is known for his precise final pass and will likely work well with Cavani.

Together with a fully fit Marcus Rashford, who can offer a more direct goal threat from the left, this front three could be one of the most dangerous that Solskjaer could field at some point next season.

Option 2 — Sancho, Cavani, Greenwood

Again, this option has both Sancho and Cavani, but with the former operating on the left-hand side – showing his versatility, being comfortable on either side. Being positioned on the left would make it more likely that the winger can play cute passes in behind the opposition backline when cutting inside like he has been used to doing for Erling Haaland in Germany.

Mason Greenwood has had an entire summer of rest after he pulled out of England’s Euro 2020 squad before the tournament and this means that he will be fresh and ready ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

When you consider the fact that Rashford will need a rest after the Euros and a possible operation, it is a strong possibility that Greenwood will begin the campaign as a starter off the right-hand side after his strong individual end to the last season. He bagged seven goals and one assist in his last 13 appearances in the 2020/21 campaign.

This is similar to the previous option, where you have Sancho on one side and more of a direct goal threat (Greenwood) on the other, but this would see the former line up in front of Luke Shaw. It is very likely that the two of them would pick up a similarly great partnership to the one that the left-back has with Rashford.

Option 3 — Sancho, Martial, Greenwood

Like Greenwood, Anthony Martial was unable to compete in Euro 2020 with France as he picked up an injury in the international break back in March. This put an abrupt end to his most disappointing campaign in Red so far.

However, the Frenchman might just have a lifeline this next season. With reports stating that Cavani will only be able to play in around 60% of games through the season due to his age, and with the fact that he has just been a part of Uruguay‘s Copa America squad, Solskjær might chose to ease him into the schedule as the games start – which will more than likely give a fresh and rested Martial a chance at redemption through the middle.

If we do so this trio line up together, it will be great to see the possible link-up play between Sancho and Martial. Both are players that like operating in tight spaces and should the striker regain some of his old form, it could be an effective partnership in some matches.

However, with Martial often dropping deep and neither Sancho or Greenwood being one to make many runs in behind a defence, it would be likely to see either Rashford or Cavani take the place of either Greenwood or Martial at the nearest opportunity.

Option 4 — Pogba, Cavani, Sancho

While there are increasing reports about PSG being a possible and likely destination for Paul Pogba either this summer or at the end of his contract, he is still a Manchester United player, and showed his talents on the left-wing last season.

If you were to tell a Manchester United fan four years ago that the Frenchman would arguably be in our best front three, they would assume that we have two of the best midfielders in Europe and he’d been shoved out there to compensate. However, in reality it’s due to the fact that the position suits his strengths very well.

You could argue that for large portions of last season, Pogba played some of his best football since he joined the club in 2016 from Juventus. If he is with the club next season, you’d imagine he’d get some more minutes off the left-hand side.

This option then provides bundles of creativity with Pogba and Sancho patrolling the flanks and coming inside, not to mention that they will likely have Bruno Fernandes alongside them. You can already imagine Edinson Cavani licking his lips. For certain matchups, this could be a very dangerous front three.

Option 5 — Rashford, Greenwood, Sancho

While Greenwood has mostly operated from the right since being fully promoted into the first-team in 2019/20, many believe that his natural and long term position in the squad is through the middle as a number nine.

He is still learning the game and growing, but it is likely that he could get some more minutes through the centre next season for the same reasons that Martial can too. It will not only be exciting to watch him through the middle, but even more so alongside both Rashford and Sancho.

All three of these players are comfortable on either wing or centrally and it would make for a very fluid front three, who will interchange and cause a lot of trouble for opposition defences.

While it’s less likely that we see this front three very often, it could be one which gets many United fans off their seats with the direct nature of Rashford and Greenwood mixed with the added class and creativity of Sancho.

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