Should Liverpool break the bank for Jadon Sancho?
Background image: Rept0n1x, CC BY-SA 3.0
Jadon Sancho is clearly a young man unafraid to make a big decision. In 2017, at 17, he turned down a lucrative first professional contract with Manchester City, opting instead to join the vanguard of young English talent plying their trade in the Bundesliga.
City’s loss was Borussia Dortmund’s gain. Rather than running the risk of limited first-team minutes and potential stagnation under Pep Guardiola, Sancho thrust himself straight into action at the Westfalenstadion. His displays earned rave reviews and a call-up from Gareth Southgate. He continued to flourish with the Three Lions.
As the January window approaches, the talented 19-year-old faces another big call in his fledgeling career. Amid rumours of a fallout with the Dortmund hierarchy, reports link the winger with a move back to the UK. Liverpool apparently head the queue. How would the South London born prodigy fit into Jurgen Klopp’s plans? Does Sancho expect to walk straight into an Anfield side swatting aside rivals like flies at the family picnic or is he asking to be the bit-part player he rejected at the Etihad?
Certainly, the Red’s front three need no introduction. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane shared Premier League Golden Boot honours with Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2018/19. Roberto Firmino is no slouch himself. The Brazilian contributed 16 goals and eight assists in all competitions then came back from a late-season injury to help Brazil win the Copa America.
Behind them wait Champions League hero Divock Origi, Swiss dynamo Xherdan Shaqiri and a healthy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana. If he joins the Reds, Sancho may have settle for a place on the bench.
That said, after an arduous December schedule, Liverpool could still be chasing honours on four fronts. Rotation will be key. Klopp can use as many hands on deck as possible. Don't forget that Ramadan falls between 23 April and 23 May, crunch time in a Premier League title race. How will fasting affect Mane and Salah's productivity? They too were busy this past summer, performing international duties with Senegal and host Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. No rest for the weary.
Moving for Sanchez admittedly raises questions about the Merseysiders' transfer policy. Academy star Rhian Brewster waits for his chance. Harry Wilson lights up the Premier League on loan to Bournemouth. The Welsh sensation has six goals in 14 league appearances for the Cherries, more than one a worldie to match anything Sancho produces at BVB. The Reds also brought in 16-year-old winger Harvey Elliott from Fulham. Are they stockpiling the brightest young talent just like Manchester City? In the immortal words of Tolkien, does Sancho really want to walk in the front door after escaping through the back window?
The youngster does offer Klopp another tactical variation through a potential switch from his favoured 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1. With Sancho equally adept on either flank, such a move accommodates four attackers. Already on six assists this term, the teenager is known for his creative prowess. Klopp may be looking to improve Liverpool's goal output. On the other hand, Sancho's 1.6 shots per 90 trails Mane (2.4), Firmino (3.2) and Salah (3.6) by some distance.
Securing one of Europe’s hottest young properties will command a premium price. The Reds smashed their transfer record when they paid £75 million for Virgil van Dijk and they followed up with a £56 million outlay for keeper Alisson Becker. Both players filled needs for the Reds, however. Does Sancho? His speed, acceleration and high energy should see him fit in seamlessly to Jurgen Klopp’s brand of heavy metal football but he'll need to use those qualities to show up on time for meetings. Tardiness reportedly lies at the root of his Dortmund woes.
The prospect of seeing Sancho unleashed on Premier League defences in tandem with fellow Three Lions starlet Trent Alexander-Arnold tantalises. Some may baulk at the potential fee, its necessity and the player's dubious discipline record but Sancho’s world-class potential and Klopp’s track record in improving attacking talent lend a certain logic to the move. If it happens, you won't hear the Kop complaining.