Jadon Sancho is riding on the crest of a wave.
He doesn’t turn 20 until next March but is already integral to Borussia Dortmund’s push to become German champions once again.
The speedy winger joined from Manchester City in 2017 after manager Pep Guardiola failed to assure him a smooth pathway into his first-team plans.
Backing his own talent, the Londoner swapped north-west England for North Rhine-Westphalia and hasn’t looked back since. To date, he’s made no fewer than 69 appearances in all competitions, registering 18 goals and 30 assists.
However, sporting director Michael Zorc isn’t banking on a long stay for the England international, feeling a move away from the Westfalenstadion next summer is very much on the cards. “You don’t have to be a prophet to know he won’t play here for another five years, Zorc recently told the press, while confirmed Dortmund have already managed to fend off interest from an unnamed ‘super club’.
Sancho, arguably one of the most exciting talents currently plying his trade in Europe, will not be short of suitors. Already a who’s who of such ‘super clubs’ have been heavily linked with the forward, who is second favourite to win the 2019 Golden Boy award.
As follows are contenders to become his next destination; a dream option, a realistic choice, a wildcard selection and our own suggestion.
Dream: Real Madrid
For many, Real Madrid, the most decorated club in European Cup history, is a dream to play for. Unless you support their rivals, Barcelona (but even that hasn’t stopped certain individuals).
There’s a mythic quality attached to Los Blancos, who despite their current predicament, remain a force to be reckoned with. Since truly establishing themselves as a global force, Real has always been home to the game’s biggest names – with a few exceptions of course – and their fabled white jersey has subsequently taken on a legend of its own.
Sancho, in line to become their next ‘galactico’, represents everything they want in a swashbuckling forward. His pace coupled with ingenuity can fill the void left by Gareth Bale, though a move could depend on if they’re unable to snare Raheem Sterling away from Man City, according to Sky Sports, as well as how stable they are.
It’s no secret Real are an erratic mess at the moment. This is not exactly a new experience for them, but the heavy defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League this season coupled with the lack of an evident tactical approach under Zinedine Zidane takes the gloss of them as a destination. They may be third in La Liga, but failures to beat Mallorca, Real Betis and Real Valladolid have cost them the opportunity to capitalise on Barcelona’s own false start.
However, if Los Blancos get their act together, there would be no grander stage for Sancho to continue his development.
“What I hear is that Liverpool have great interest. I would imagine that next summer they could become one of the biggest interested parties,” former midfielder Dietmar Hamann recently disclosed while on punditry duties in his native Germany.
There, he’s seen Sancho up close and personal. This revelation, though, raised a few eyebrows given Jurgen Klopp isn’t exactly without top-tier talent on the flanks. Yet no coach is reluctant to have options, especially when fighting on multiple fronts.
Nominally utilised on the right wing, Sancho can also operate on the opposite side, meaning he would hypothetically provide competition to Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Also worth noting is that both African superstars can play through the middle with a slight tweak to Klopp’s system.
Another reason as to why Liverpool is not a switch to rule out is Klopp’s record when it comes to developing footballers. That, above all else, is what a 20-year-old with ridiculous potential should factor in when deciding the next chapter of his journey.
Wildcard: Man Utd
Sancho is a footballer who can light up a venue wherever he goes. And no club has been more synonymous with iconic wingers than the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, where Manchester United fans have enjoyed George Best, Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo running down the wings in the past.
Right now, they are a far cry from those halcyon days. Their regression following the retirement of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 has been stark and there’s no guarantee they’ll be challenging for English football’s top prize anytime soon.
Having a player of Sancho’s ilk becomes advantageous with the right coach in place, though. We’ve seen how positively he’s responded under Lucien Favre, who has a long track record of providing a sturdy platform for those coming up. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, for all the good he’s done, might not be that man. Man United’s name has long been associated with the former Man City youngster (see Mail Online, for instance), but he needs to ask himself if the timing and environment is right.
Squawka Suggests: Chelsea
Or perhaps a return home? Sancho, born and raised in London, was linked with Tottenham Hotspur before Borussia Dortmund entered the picture. And the Londoner hasn’t forgotten his roots. He regularly visits the English capital, where family and friends remain. Playing nearer to close ones can be an intoxicating prospect. Fortunately, there’s a super club giving youth ample time right now in Chelsea, who have transformed spectacularly under Frank Lampard’s watch.
An all-English front-three of Sancho, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi, with Mason Mount pulling the strings just behind is a tantalising dream for national team boss Gareth Southgate, who could be taking all of them to next summer’s European championship.
There’s also the prospect of once again displacing former BVB teammate Christian Pulisic from their starting lineup…