For England under-19 international Jadon Sancho, 2017/18 was a breakthrough year.
Most people would assume that an 18-year-old’s breakthrough year would come in the Championship, League One, or even the Premier League. But Sancho’s came across the continent in the Bundesliga.
German giants Borussia Dortmund signed the then-17-year-old winger from Man City in the summer of 2017 for a fee of £8m. He took the vacant 7 shirt left by departing Ousmane Dembélé- a sign of how the club saw the man and their vision for him. He featured 12 times last season in the Bundesliga, scoring once and bagging four assists.
The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup winner has played a prominent role for Dortmund in every game so far this season, primarily used from the bench, although he started in the club’s opening Champions League fixture.
The thing is about Sancho (valued at £18m on Transfermarkt.co.uk), it is very hard to predict what the future holds for a player like this, when he has had such a unique career so far. The career path that the teenager has taken is so barely trodden, there is no one really to compare him to and predict what happens next.
Very few English players have tried their hand at the Bundesliga. Owen Hargreaves did, but he came through Bayern Munich’s youth set up. Kevin Keegan did, but he had already established himself, and that was a long time ago.
It is a rarely done career move, but one that may be beneficial for Sancho himself, and English football. He may have helped pave the way for other similar moves, such as Reece Oxford’s move to Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Ademola Lookman to RB Leipzig- both loan deals.
Even Pep Guardiola has stressed the importance that players from England’s national team should seek to play abroad in order to develop as players and strengthen the squad.
Whilst things are going well at Dortmund, it would seem bizarre for the winger to move on. He will want to build his reputation before a potential move elsewhere, and he still has plenty of time to do so. There is still a great amount of time before the player will have even reached his peak, so there is no need to rush a move.
From Dortmund’s perspective, they would not want to let go of a player whose value will only increase dramatically over the next few years. They will want to keep hold of him as long as they can, waiting to usher in a big-money move.
Although Sancho is on the England radar, it still seems that players will need to be based in the Premier League to gain exposure to the national team’s management and gain nationwide attention. That is why it seems inevitable that the London-born player will return to his native country. When this happens is less unclear.
Unlike other young players mentioned that have made the move to Germany, this deal was permanent, meaning any club interested in buying Sancho will need to fork out a lot of money. This will seem inconsequential to a lot of top clubs in England, given how much players usually go for, not to mention a young English player. A likely destination could be a return to Man City, where, although with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané he’ll have his work cut out, this is where he could establish himself as one of the leading wingers in the country, and will undoubtedly develop under Guardiola.
The only thing that is clear about Sancho’s future is that it is bright. Be it in Germany, England, or potentially elsewhere in Europe, this is a player that will surely be on Gareth Southgate’s radar.
Indeed, with City struggling to hit the kind of form they set last year, the decison to let Sancho depart is showing them up.