He was once the jewel in Manchester City’s academy crown but Jadon Sancho is now tearing up the scene for Borussia Dortmund.
Since relocating to the Ruhr district from City in 2017, the teenage phenom has drastically enhanced his burgeoning reputation and is now one of the most sought-after wingers on the planet.
Such has been the impact Sancho’s made at the Westfalenstadion that he has provided more league assists (17) since the start of last season than any other player in Europe’s top five divisions.
And it all came about after the 19-year-old took a leap of faith two years ago, leaving the comforts of City’s state of the art academy in search of first-team football.
At the time, Pep Guardiola omitted Sancho from his pre-season tour of the US, which sparked a mass tug-of-war brawl across Europe as the cream of the continent battled for this precocious talent’s signature.
Sancho ultimately signed for Borussia Dortmund, which has massively backfired for City, but there was no shortage of suitors when the Camberwell-born wunderkind attempted to engineer a move away from the Etihad. So, who were they?
At the time of Sancho’s quibble with City, Arsene Wenger was still in the Arsenal dugout so, of course, the Gunners were credited with a strong interest in the teenager.
It is believed the north London club had been keeping close tabs on Sancho 12 months prior to his eventual departure, with the Gunners confident, at the time, that a move back to his hometown alongside best friend Reiss Nelson would sway his judgement.
Unfortunately for Wenger, Sancho joined an illustrious catalogue of players the Frenchman tried but ultimately failed to bring to the capital club…
Arsene Wenger's 'almost signed XI' is pretty impressive… 🤐 pic.twitter.com/hynzGj6OXW
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) September 3, 2017
Speaking on beIN Sports, Wenger explained: “I wanted to take him from Man City when he didn’t get the games.
“I tried to lure him because he’s from London. I tried to get him to Arsenal.
“He’s one of the best players of his generation. He can dribble, he has the arrogance.
“There’s something in there that is part of the big players.
“You can call it arrogance, confidence, belief; but it has to be there.”
Arsenal weren’t the only English club monitoring Sancho’s situation at the Etihad two years ago, with Liverpool among those who tried to lure the academy star away from City.
Upon rejecting a professional contract with Guardiola’s side, the Merseysiders were on red alert but it soon became apparent that City would never sell to a rival Premier League club, making any potential deal a non-starter.
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Jurgen Klopp was the man to confirm the Reds’ interest back in February of this year but he ultimately lauded Sancho’s decision to test himself in the Bundesliga at his former club.
He said: “Buying English players is a smart idea because we would never have a chance to get Sancho.
“We are not blind – we saw him, we liked him and then we think: ‘Can we get him?’ No. Because English clubs don’t sell to other English clubs.
“I don’t know exactly what the reason is for that but they don’t do it. Now they can go to Germany, which is a wonderful league.”
Sancho stated in a recent interview with FourFourTwo that “it was crazy how many clubs wanted me” when it became apparent he was available, and one of those clubs in 2017 was Spurs.
The Lilywhites initially wanted Sancho to be included in the deal that saw Kyle Walker pitch up at the Etihad for £50m that same summer but City were unwilling to allow their prodigy to go the other way.
Mauricio Pochettino has since hinted that Spurs had been keeping a close eye on Sancho and always knew he would go on to reach great heights.
“We knew very well that he was capable to do what he is doing now with game time,” said Pochettino.
“Of course he is showing now in Germany that he can cope with the pressure to play in the Bundesliga or in the Champions League. And no surprise to me.
“We have seen the quality that he was showing in Manchester City or in his national team.
“I think we were talking in the last few years that he was a massive prospect to be a very good player. His talent is there and he’s a very talented player.”
RB Leipzig have shown no hesitations in affording valuable minutes to youngsters over the last few years, with the likes of Dayot Upamecano, Timo Werner and Tyler Adams all flourishing at the Red Bull Arena.
This fervid policy of blooding in young talent would have made Saxony the ideal environment for Sancho to continue his footballing education and development.
19 years, 170 days old and Jadon Sancho has his first England goal.
And his second… ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/SQzZjYU06E
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 10, 2019
And as it goes, the Red Bulls were supposedly desperate to bring Sancho to the club, with German outlet BILD reporting at the time that his representatives were given a full tour of RB Leipzig’s academy and stadium by chief scout, Johannes Spors.
Of course, it has since proven a sucker punch to the Red Bulls that, not only did Sancho reject their overtures, but he went ahead and signed for another Bundesliga club.
If City weren’t going to sell to a rival Premier League club, then they certainly weren’t going to sell to the most bitter of all their adversaries: Manchester United.
But, rewind two years ago and the Red Devils were believed to be ‘pushing hard’ – according to the Manchester Evening News – to prise Sancho away from their eternal rivals.
Of course, a move here failed to materialise but that hasn’t stopped the 13-time Premier League champions trying to persuade the eight-capped England international to realise his full potential at “The Theatre of Dreams”.
Jadon Sancho has provided an assist in each of the opening three Bundesliga games this season:
✓ vs. Augsburg
✓ vs. FC Köln
✓ vs. Union Berlin
All for Paco Alcácer. pic.twitter.com/LLKQrGazFm
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 31, 2019
Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc recently revealed how the Red Devils held discussions with the club over a potential summer transfer, but the Bundesliga runners-up refused to entertain any, and all, offers.
“A hot topic right now is Sancho and Manchester United,” Zorc said on Inside Borussia Dortmund.
“Both his discussions with the club and mine with the consultants.
“A meeting did take place. Manchester United invited the consultant.
“But according to what I know, the consultant told the club that no matter how much money they offer, we won’t let him go this summer.
“But the player also has no intention of taking that step this summer.’