Jadon Sancho is the talk of everyone with a footballing voice as he has fast become the primary rallying topic of the annual circus act known as the summer transfer window. Well, it is not really summer in Europe but strange are the times and this is the new normal. What isn’t new and yet completely normal, even in 2020, is the oscillation between European heavyweights for the signature of a young man – one who specializes in capturing imagination and generating revenue by kicking a ball on green grass.
This young Englishman is particularly good at doing so and at just 20, is already one of the game’s beau monde. Hence, even in such gravely uncertain times, with financial strings taut, Manchester United are playing suitor to bring Sancho back to the town he left in 2017 to join Borussia Dortmund. And as is wont, when Manchester United come flirting, the path to the prize becomes fraught with hurdles – cast your mind back to 2016 with Paul Pogba or January with Bruno Fernandes.
Thankfully for the red half of Manchester, Ed Woodward was successful in acquiring his targets on both aforementioned occasions; and if the murmurs are to be believed, Sancho – with personal terms agreed till June 2025 – could follow in the same footsteps. On one simple condition – United cough up £108 million. This, in a climate where Premier League clubs have to pay rebate worth £330 million on top of “Behind Closed Doors” losses, has become a sticking point in the negotiations.
As both parties engage in attrition via reported third parties, sending fans into a sine curve of emotions, it is important to remember that Sancho was only worth £8 million three years ago – £100 million less than Dortmund’s reported asking price. As meteoric as his rise in output has been, it is not just Sancho’s ability with a football that has contributed to Dortmund’s demand. There is, of course, the little matter of business – a marriage football administrators willingly entered to make money from 90 minutes of action. Why £108 million then?
Jadon Sancho playing style
The Dortmund winger is one of the most exciting wingers on the planet and has a wide array of offerings when on the pitch. A right-footed player, Sancho carries a goal threat from either wing, making him a rare breed in modern football. The 20-year-old oozes confidence while carrying the ball and is equally intelligent off it, finding half spaces at will. He is one of the quickest players with the ball and can turn at will, making him difficult to catch when he is at full tilt. Sancho has end product on top of being a mighty fine dribbler, which complements his other skills in creating chances for his teammates aplenty. Furthermore, like every elite modern winger, he is also a very good finisher.
The statistics are also allying with Sancho as he is the only player – along with Lionel Messi – to have scored and assisted more than 15 goals in the 2019/20 league season. Out of the Englishman’s total 30 goals and 33 assists in Bundesliga, this season has seen 17 and 16, respectively.
Sancho’s intelligence, even at such a young age, was on glittering display during Dortmund’s Champions League home clash against Inter. With the score tied at 2-2, Sancho drifted into the inside half space from the right wing and asked Achraf Hakimi for the pass. On receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty box, Sancho turned and returned a defence splitting through ball to Hakimi in one breath. The pass was so beautifully timed, weighed and measured that the former Dortmund right back had only to hit it without taking a touch and with only the goalkeeper to beat, he completed Dortmund’s comeback win.
Dortmund says Sancho will stay – because they can
The Dortmund CEO and the club’s Sporting Director have come out in unison, making it evidently clear that Sancho will wear yellow in western Germany next season. While it seems to have upset the Manchester United cohort of negotiators, Dortmund are well within their right to not sell if their valuation is not met.
It is well known in the footballing circuit that German clubs do not sell for any less than the price they originally quote. With them, there is no scope for bargaining – its pay or leave. Hence, not even a pandemic-stricken market has been able to aid United in coaxing Dortmund into relaxing their demand. While United want to reportedly complete the deal with installments and performance related add-ons, Dortmund want more cash up front.
The German club are in no hurry to sell their most priced asset because he has three years left on his contract and the understanding is that next season will attract more suitors. But there is enough precedence of Dortmund executives going back on their word and selling players if the offer is right.
Sancho fits Manchester United’s project
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been extremely vocal about the demands of his project. He wants to build Manchester United’s citadel with soldiers who want to be a part of the club first and the brand later. He wants to build United with fighters on the pitch who are young, hungry and understand what it means to wear the Manchester United shirt. Only when they fit these criteria, Ole looks for “X-factor” and excitement as he believes it is in the DNA of the club to be forward minded.
And Sancho fits his bill – the 20-year-old left his home at 11 to continue pursuing his dreams at Watford and to forward his footballing ambitions, changed club at 14 to join Manchester City. When he realised the club was not moving in the direction that matched with his desires, he exchanged the comfort of homeland for the graft of Germany. Thus, throughout his career, Sancho has displayed commendable hunger to succeed. Solskjaer sees this as a perfect match to further his project.
In terms of playing style, Sancho would bring his near world-class prowess into a Manchester United squad brimming with exciting forward players. A fluid frontline consisting of Anthony Martial (24), Marcus Rashford (20), Mason Greenwood (18) and Sancho (20) – able to play across the width of the pitch – with Bruno (25) and Pogba (27) to back them is enough to make any top team take notice. The fact that all of them are young makes for a frightening prospect.
Sancho will make his club a lot of money
Sancho is a box-office player and while it is a common saying that defenders win titles, it is the attacker who makes spectators buy tickets and pay subscription fees. The attacker amazes the audience, wows them, takes them by the metaphorical collar and hooks them to the product.
And the Sancho transfer is laden with strong financial upside – quick, incisive, exciting style of football in addition to the global brand of Manchester United and a weekly grandstand stage of Old Trafford in the world’s most popular league. It is likely that Sancho will get the iconic number 7 shirt and one can almost envisage how money-making maestro Ed Woodward would go into overdrive to translate this association into commercial benefit. What more, Sancho has plenty of years left at the summit of football and even if United sell him after 6 or 7 years of service, they can demand a hefty fee to cover their investment.
Thus, as the two clubs remain engaged in the battle to call Sancho their own, the Kennington-bred can perhaps take a step back to look at his enviable upward trajectory before resuming his fast-paced forward march.