Jadon Sancho quit Man City to make it to the top – and he’s been vindicated

According to Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc, he is "certainly one of the most exciting players in Europe.”

And as Jadon Sancho makes waves in German football and celebrates a senior England call-up, it is difficult to argue with that assessment.

Frustrated at Manchester City and seeing no clear pathway into Pep Guardiola’s first team despite having total belief in his ability, a 17-year-old Sancho pushed for City to let him leave last summer.

Subsequently, BVB – yearning to replace Ousmane Dembele following his mega-money move to Barcelona – handed over £10million to take a player rated as among the best in his age group anywhere on the planet.

Sancho rejected £30,000-a-week to remain at the Etihad alongside pal Phil Foden. You can question his methods – staying away from training at one point – but 14 months on, you cannot question the end result.

"Brave" is what England boss Gareth Southgate calls his decision to move.

And while Foden, the Golden Ball winner at last year’s Under-17 World Cup, is left scratching for minutes at City – and granted more have come his way this term – Sancho is proving increasingly pivotal at the Westfalenstadion.

Last season offered Sancho, now 18, a taste of what it was all about; amid a tricky season where Peter Bosz lasted less than six months and Peter Stoger was an ill fit, Sancho made 12 appearances totalling 685 minutes and gave glimpses of his burgeoning talent.

This season, under the guidance of a proven developer of young talent in Lucien Favre, Sancho has taken the Bundesliga by storm.

He’s yet to start a league game, but has appeared as a substitute in all six so far, showing an aptitude for entering the fray and turning matches in Dortmund’s favour; bending them to his will with his pace, dribbling ability and calmness in the final third.

Nowhere was that more apparent than in last weekend’s trip to Bayer Leverkusen. Called off the bench with his side 2-1 down with 22 minutes remaining, he’d been on the field a matter of seconds before keeper Roman Burki threw him the ball inside his own half; Sancho raced forwards, played a couple of exchanges with Marco Reus, and teed up the Germany international to equalise. He would add another assist to his total in injury time as Dortmund won 4-2.

He himself is cool about the situation, knowing he must continue working hard to nail down a starting spot – "Obviously I don’t want to be a sub" – whilst simultaneously gaining a reputation as a ‘joker’, the word used when Germans describe their game-changer from the bench.

The Champions League has offered starts, and against Monaco he again made a keen impression. With the game locked at 0-0, a clever vertical pass through the Monaco backline put the opening goal on a plate for Jacob Bruun Larsen.

Sancho is making the most of every available minute; no player in Europe has managed more than his eight assists so far this season – despite them coming in just 317 minutes.

In the Bundesliga he’s averaging one every 20 minutes and has an xA90 (expected goals per 90) of 1.05. No player to have played more than 100 minutes gets anywhere near that right now.

Increasingly, it is a matter of time before a place in the first XI is definitively his.

His starring role against Monaco was proof for Southgate that now is the time to bring him into the senior set-up and take a look; on Tuesday, a first Under-21 call had looked more likely.

But his ability to commit opponents at pace and open up opposing defences with his dribbling is something England lack. Two-footed, capable of going either way, after terrorising the French side at Europe’s elite level he simply couldn’t be ignored and becomes the first player born in 2000 to make the senior squad

Former England under-16 coach Dan Micciche believes Sancho can be England’s answer to Neymar while Marco Reus has credited him with helping to return "euphoria" to the North Rhine.

The boy from Watford now has the platform to showcase his quality and make himself crucial in the next step of Southgate’s England evolution.

Don’t bet against him doing precisely that.

Will Jadon Sancho return to the Premier League one day?


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