Solskjaer says Europa League trophy could be stepping stone to top

London (AFP) – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says victory in the Europa League could be a stepping stone to a new era of success for Manchester United.

United finished third in the Premier League after an impressive end to the coronavirus-interrupted season, meaning they will return to the Champions League next season.

The Old Trafford club look certain to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League on Wednesday after winning the first leg of their last-16 tie against Austrian side LASK 5-0 in March

Solskjaer said winning the first piece of silverware under his leadership would be “massive” in terms of forging a winning mentality.

“You can see that,” the Norwegian told his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “When Sir Alex (Ferguson) won the Premier League for the first time that was the start of the Premier League era. It started with the FA Cup (in 1990). 

“For me personally, when I won my first trophy as a player it made me more hungry because you saw the highs of it, how much it meant for everyone.”

Solskjaer also referred to his success as a manager — he won the first league title in Norwegian club Molde’s history in 2011.

“That was the first time for the club in the 100-year history. Since then we’ve won it four times in about eight or nine years so it was a big change for that club and for me for this team as well if we can get our hands on a trophy, it’s a big step forward.”

– Sancho move? –

Solskjaer kept his cards close to his chest over the possible signing of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho.

United are hoping to make the 20-year-old their marquee signing in the transfer window when the impact of the pandemic means few other clubs can get anywhere near the lofty asking price.

It is understood that discussions are ongoing about a deal for the England winger.

The Bundesliga club have reportedly set an August 10 deadline and want more than £100 million ($130 million) for the player.

But Solskjaer gave little away on Tuesday.

“This transfer window is a long one and every transfer takes its course,” he said. “It is what it is. At the moment, I’ve got no updates for you anyway so if there’s any news, we’ll update you.”

Chris Smalling had hoped to remain involved in the Europa League with Roma, but an extension to his season-long loan move has not been reached.

The defender said he was disappointed that he “can’t finish what we started this season” as the Serie A side prepared to face Sevilla, with Solskjaer ready to welcome the 30-year-old back to Old Trafford.

By contrast, Alexis Sanchez has been given the green light from United to feature in the Europa League for Inter Milan.

The forward has been a huge disappointment at Old Trafford and it has been reported that discussions over a permanent exit are ongoing.

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