Jadon Sancho – A pioneer for young English footballers?

By Ewan Kingsbury

14 months on from his £8m arrival at Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City, Jadon Sancho is turning heads all over the world – and leaving his former boss Pep Guardiola full of regret.

“We wanted him but he did not want to stay. What can we do? Nothing. So good luck and all the best. It is a market. It is what it is.” Guardiola said of Sancho whilst talking about 19-year-old Brahim Diaz, whose future at the Etihad is also currently up in the air.

Reiss Nelson and Sancho have done something so refreshing in coming way out of their comfort zones in order to develop their game at the highest level, and they are certainly reaping the rewards with the praise they are attracting.

Sancho replaced Dortmund’s departed Ousmane Dembele in August 2017 after the latter left for Barcelona in a deal worth around £100m. Interestingly, comparing their stats for the start of this season would suggest that Sancho has made the bigger impact for their new clubs.

Despite signing for £92m less and being three years younger than the France World Cup winner, Sancho has made five more goal contributions in league games, as well as a better average match rating (7.21 to 7.18). Dembele has also played almost 200 minutes more than the England international, who was limited to making his mark from the bench early on in the season.

Sancho has also made his mark in the Champions League this season, scoring his first goal in European club competition just five minutes after coming on against Atletico Madrid in a 4-0 rout at the Signal Iduna Park.

The London-born winger got his first England cap last month against Croatia after appearances for the U16, U17 and U19 sides – where he scored 23 times in 34 games.

“Of course he has a lot of potential. He’s only 18, and he’s already playing with the England national team,” his manager Lucien Favre said.

“At the age of 18, that’s something special, you don’t see it very often. Of course he can still improve a lot, that’s quite normal and he knows that. But he’s already very good.”

Would all of this have happened had Sancho stayed at Manchester City and in the Premier League? Phil Foden (68 minutes) and Brahim Diaz (yet to feature), for example, have been feeding off scraps in terms of playing time in England’s top flight.

And who can blame Guardiola for picking the likes of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of an unproven, temperamental youngster? The dilemma is even bigger at City, where they spend £100m every year – Mahrez just the latest example – to push youngsters even further down the food chain.

It remains to be seen whether moves to European clubs outside of England who don’t quite have that budget will be most beneficial for our youth, but Jadon Sancho is certainly going to be raising the eyebrows of players who are currently consigned to Premier League benches.

Edited by Harry Trend

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