Football Features

Jadon Sancho: Man Utd seem realistic buyers, but does the ‘dream’ lie at Chelsea?

By Muhammad Butt

Jadon Sancho transfer: Man Utd seem realistic buyers, but does the 'dream' lie at Chelsea?

Published: 17:13, 13 February 2020

Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho looks set to be on the move this summer.

The young Englishman is likely to move in the summer and should cost over £100m, according to Sky Sports, as Dortmund continue their practice of signing promising young talent and then selling them on for a colossal profit.

Sancho joined Dortmund from Manchester City back in 2017 for a minuscule £8m. He had grown restless on the bench at Manchester City and wanted to, essentially “bet on himself.” Which he did by moving abroad, and it has been a bet that has paid of handsomely.

Since the start of 2018/19, Sancho is one of just three players to have notched over 20 goals and 20 assists in Europe’s top five leagues. The other two are the legendary Angel Di Maria and the world’s greatest player, Leo Messi. When you’re sharing the stage with those two iconic players (while also being over a decade younger than them), you’re a special talent indeed.

But where will that special talent end up if he leaves Dortmund? We’ve come up with four options.

Dream: Chelsea

Jadon Sancho grew up in Kennington, which is about 30 minutes from Stamford Bridge. He was also born in 2000, so was growing up as Chelsea were ascending to their current position as one of Europe’s elite sides. All of that is to say, he’s a Chelsea fan.

So what greater dream could there be for Sancho than to return to the Premier League, to the club he grew up supporting, and absolutely tear through the competition? Sancho’s youth, pace and skill would make him ideal for Frank Lampard’s style of play and he could renew his partnership with Callum Hudson-Odoi from their days together for England youth teams (like the summer of 2017). The pair would potentially be a devastating wing-duo that would torture opponents.

Unfortunately this dream, as with most dreams, is an unlikely event. Chelsea would have to make it back to the Champions League to afford what Dortmund will ask for, and more to the point they just agreed to sign Hakim Ziyech to play on the wings. Given Lampard’s commitment to Hudson-Odoi on the other wing, it’s unlikely he would sign a player for such a huge fee that would bench their star prospect (whose contract they recently renewed at great cost). Yes, Hudson-Odoi played no. 10 for England back in 2017, but at senior level he has been strictly a winger.

Realistic: Manchester United

What’s more realistic for Sancho is a return to Manchester, but to United not City. The Red Devils were courting him in the summer of 2019 but failed to land their man. Now that Sancho is back on the market, United are back in for him and are, according to bookmakers, the favourites to land him.

Where Sancho fits in at United is obvious. The Red Devils have a yawning chasm in their right-wing slot and Sancho would walk right into it. He’d also be able to don the No.7 shirt he prefers to wear, following in the footsteps of previous right-wing United icons David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sancho would be right at home in United’s fast-paced transition football and would even add a burst of creativity and goals for when opponents sit back to try and stifle them. United are also one of the few clubs around who could easily afford the colossal fee Dortmund are likely to demand.

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Wildcard: Liverpool

Another Premier League side apparently (and understandably) interested in bringing Sancho back to England is Premier League champions-elect Liverpool. The Reds are rock solid right now and adding a talent like Sancho to their phenomenal front three would be devastating for all their opponents at home and abroad.

Seriously, imagine Klopp having to choose one of Sancho, Salah, Mané or Firmino to have as an impact sub every game. Or worse, start all three and just blitz opponents through sheer attacking brilliance? It’d be a horror show for anyone not wearing a Liverpool kit. Sancho’s skill, intelligence and work ethic would make him a perfect fit for Klopp.

This is the wildcard candidate, though, because the fee likely to be demanded for Sancho is colossal. And while Liverpool have paid enormous fees (relative to position) for the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Fabinho in the past, they were always for players that had a clear place in the side’s best XI. The only way Sancho would have that at Liverpool is if one of their star forwards left, and that doesn’t seem likely at all.

Squawka Suggests: Barcelona

While the obvious moves would see Sancho move back to England, a better transfer for his career would be to continue his European adventure, but move on to Spain and join Barcelona. The Blaugrana are heading for yet another summer of change, but it’s one that would place Sancho in an ideal position to both excel and grow.

Messi is obviously the star man of the side, but with Antoine Griezmann struggling to fit in, Ousmane Dembélé struggling with injuries, and Lautaro Martinez earmarked to replace Luis Suárez as the side’s striker… what if Barcelona went for wholesale change, sold Griezmann and Dembélé and installed Sancho as their left-winger?

At Borussia Dortmund, Sancho learned how to dominate in transition. At Barcelona, Sancho would learn how to dominate in possession. Real Madrid could afford him many of the same possibilities to win trophies that Barcelona would, but only in Catalunya could he learn so much, only there could he absorb the Barcelona footballing philosophy and become even better.

He would learn from the world’s greatest dribbler the best ways to unbalance opponents and exploit space, he would learn from one of the world’s greatest passers the best ways to find the angles that can cut opponents to ribbons, he would learn from one of the world’s greatest goalscorers the secrets behind relentlessly consistent goalscoring.

All three of those are the same player, obviously. Leo Messi is 13 years older than Jadon Sancho, the perfect age to mentor the young Englishman as he comes of age. Luis Suárez if he stays, would be another great mentor – but if Lautaro does replace him then the Argentine’s ferocious hunger would make him a superb foil for Sancho.

Ansu Fati would be his competition, but also a peer who he could understand (much as he was great friends with Reiss Nelson growing up). Ansu is roughly two years younger than Sancho and having the two of them around as wing options would allow Barcelona devastating power out wide as well as some genuine depth to rotate through a long season. Imagine them either side of Messi as a false nine? Or Lautaro as an actual one? Spectacular. And then you’ve got potentially playing for a decade in the same side as Frenkie de Jong.

Finally, as Messi ages and becomes more of a midfielder or even leaves, Sancho will be able to emerge as the dominant final third playmaking force for one of the dominant footballing sides on the planet. Oh, and he’d get to wear the no. 7 shirt and live in a beautiful city with sublime weather. It’s the absolute best possible move.