Jadon Sancho: The kid who got away
Jadon Sancho. He was underappreciated by his Premier League club until last season. His thunderous form in the Bundesliga this term has attracted attention. He's certainly worth the hype.
In 214 minutes for Borussia Dortmund before the international break, the English youngster produced six assists and one goal. Creating a goal for your side every half-hour more than two full matches is something even Lionel Messi rarely does. Sancho's helped Borussia Dortmund maintain an unbeaten record in the league while rivals Bayern Munich are struggling through a managerial change.
Robbed of glory against Spain after contributing five goals and five assists at the U17 Euros in Croatia last year, some odd penalty decisions reduced his effectiveness in the final. He put it behind him and has found scintillating form for his new club. Consequently, he received an England call-up and may feature in the UEFA Nations League fixtures against Spain and Croatia. Deprived of his club services, the English footballing fraternity cannot wait to see what magic he weaves for the Three Lions. He isn't complaining.
"[It's] the biggest thing that could happen to a young kid like me".
Leaving Man City
Sancho joined Manchester City's youth ranks in 2015 for £66,000 from Watford. It seemed an astute deal given Manchester City's stated goals for their youth program. The board placed him on the fast track to the first team when he continually impressed. Nothing came of the promise. In 2017, he was removed from the squad when it emerged he wished to leave and failed to attend training sessions.
With playing time unlikely, he rejected a contract extension at the Etihad, signing for Borussia Dortmund for an £8 million fee. He enjoys attacking the last line of defence, looking for through balls, crosses and other opportunities for teammates.
His judgment is strong for an 18-year-old. His positioning is always correct, his tactics spot on. Whether it's picking the ball from the middle of the park, drifting through the centre from wide or putting a cross into the box, he demonstrates a keen spatial awareness and connection with his mates. He strikes up remarkable partnerships. His work with Callum-Hudson-Odoi in the England U17s resulted in attractive, fast-paced, attacking football. Sancho's shows a penchant for quick, incisive one-twos and neat flicks. He's skilful even at breakneck speed, wreaking havoc on opposing defences.
Sancho's selflessness sets him apart from other young stars who prefer to seek glory for themselves. He reads the game, anticipating opportunities to bring others into play. That doesn't mean he won't shoot from a tight space. Many of his Three Lions goals derive from counterattacking runs.
His only weakness is his physique. That will come with time and work. He just needs to stay on his current path.
Future with Dortmund
One thing is sure, the sky is the limit for this lad. Dortmund's no.7 has built great on-field relations with right-back Achraf Hakimi, on-loan from Real Madrid, newly arrived Axel Witsel and club legend Marco Reus. The quartet combine to give the Westfalenstadion a deadly right-oriented attack. His partnership with Reus who plays as a no.10 in a 4-2-3-1 helps the team create overlaps and complete long through-balls. Ultimately, there's space for the young Englishman in the final third.
Peter Stoger is proving the right manager to bring out Sancho's talent. Dortmund Sporting Director Michael Zorc has already drawn comparisons to Ousmane Dembele, quite the compliment for the teenager.
Given Dortmund's reputation for selling players, this may not be the last stop on the Jadon Sancho escape route. On the other hand, he recently signed an extension to remain with the club through 2023. With young American Christian Pulisic on the left, Dortmund's attack could lead the way in the Bundesliga for some time.