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What’s Next for Jadon Sancho?


What’s Next for Jadon Sancho?

When Jadon Sancho joined Manchester United for £73m in 2021 he had the whole world at his feet. The Premier League giants had fought off plenty of competition for the Englishman’s services, and with his signing, they landed one of the biggest talents the footballing world had to offer.

Fast forward just two years later and he has lost his place in the squad after falling out with manager Erik ten Hag. He has made only three appearances this season, all off the bench. It is the latest blow for the winger in what has been an incredibly underwhelming career at Old Trafford so far. We take a look at what has gone wrong for Sancho, and where he could be headed next.

Jadon Sancho Transfer Odds - January 2024

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Sancho to Join Borussia Dortmund @ 10/1

Borussia Dortmund – Why was he so highly rated?

After starting his young career in Watford and Manchester City’s academies, Sancho made the move abroad and signed for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund. Joining for a fee of around £8m, it was here where he made his name, grabbing the attention of fans all over the world.

He made his debut in October 2017, coming on as a late substitute against Eintracht Frankfurt. He didn’t make his first league start for another three months, and eventually scored his first goal in April 2022. He also provided two assists in a 4-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

It wasn’t until the following season that he emerged as a regular starter, starting 26 league games as Dortmund finished second in the league. At just 18 years old, he enjoyed a very successful campaign, scoring 12 goals and providing 14 assists, which earned him a place in the Team of the Season. He continued to thrive, recording 20 goals and 20 assists in all competitions in 2019/20. This included a first career hat-trick against Paderborn.

In his final year with the club, he created another 20 goals, in addition to 16 of his own, showing off both his playmaking and finishing skills. Overall, he scored 50 goals and assisted 64 in 137 games. This level of performance at such a young age meant that a long list of big clubs were hoping to add him to their teams.

Move to Man United & Off-Field Incidents

United paid a lot of money to land the talented winger, but so far the lengthy pursuit has not been worth it, as he has produced just nine league goals and six assists in 58 appearances.

Following his arrival, he scored his first goal in November 2021, in a Champions League group stage fixture against Villarreal. He then netted for the first time in the Premier League in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. He scored just twice more that season. His second year was slightly better, scoring seven and providing three, but overall his time in Manchester has been disappointing.

Ten Hag’s issues with Sancho became apparent when he left the winger out of the squad to take on Arsenal at the beginning of September. After the game, the manager explained his selections, citing Sancho’s performances in training as the reason he was excluded. The winger responded on social media shortly afterwards, stating ‘I will not allow people saying things that is completely untrue, I have conducted myself very well in training this week... I've been a scapegoat for a long time which isn't fair!’ United then released a statement saying he would train ‘away from the first team group pending resolution of a squad discipline issue.’ He has not made an appearance since.

Last season was particularly tough for the youngster as he was given indefinite leave away from the side and placed on an individual training programme as he struggled with his physical and mental health. This added to the disappointment for Ten Hag and his staff, as they had gone to extreme measures to help him get right just for this latest incident to occur.

However, this is not the first time he has caused concern with alleged attitude problems. Prior to his departure from Manchester City, he was omitted from their 2017 pre-season tour squad due to disagreements over assured playing time during discussions for a new contract. It then emerged that he had missed training following the tour, before he was subsequently sold to Dortmund.

Just like Ten Hag, Sancho’s England and former Dortmund managers Gareth Southgate and Lucien Favre also took issue with the player’s approach to training and poor time-keeping. In 2019, Sky Sports revealed that he was dropped from the squad for a game against Borussia Monchengladbach after he had arrived back late from international duty. Furthermore, England staff were troubled by his late appearances at team meetings which left him out of favour. Ultimately he missed out on the squad at the Qatar World Cup.

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Where Could He Go?

Stay at United – 11/10

With Sancho still training away from the first-team squad and no plans for his reinstatement to the squad coming anytime soon, it may be time for a fresh start.

Though there are a number of clubs who would be interested in his services, the odds suggest that the player may remain with United beyond the upcoming January transfer window. Whilst the player’s wishes are currently unclear, even if both he and the club feel a move away is the best option, a transfer might not be as simple to complete.

Having paid £73m back in 2021, it is highly unlikely the club will recoup anywhere near as much for him, meaning a loan move away might be the most feasible option. To complicate matters further, his high wages could also limit what teams are able to go for him.

Any Saudi Club - 7/2

If Sancho and United are able to find a transfer, it seems a move to Saudi Arabia may be most likely. Whilst players who move to the Saudi Pro League tend to be nearer the end of their careers, it could present an opportunity for the player to regain his form and confidence under less pressure.

However, issues may arise as a number of clubs in the league have filled up their foreign player quotas, which means that they’d have to release a foreign player already on their books. Furthermore, the smaller teams that remain may not be able to afford his high wages. Of course, we must also take into account the desires of the player, he may not want to leave European football so soon into his young career, and may prefer to stay closer to home, whether that be in England or somewhere else in the continent, especially if there is still strong interest from top clubs.

Borussia Dortmund - 15/2

The second favourites to land the winger are his former club Borussia Dortmund. A return to familiar surroundings could prove beneficial for the youngster in regaining his confidence. He enjoyed plenty of success in the Bundesliga, emerging as one of the world’s greatest talents during his four seasons there.

If Sancho still has hopes of making the England squad for next summer’s European Championships, he will need regular game time. Although an England return may be a long shot, playing consistently is a must if he is to have any chance. This is something the Germans could offer him, as long as it’s financially possible, and they will hope to help him regain the form that made him so sought after two years ago.

Tottenham - 9/1

Another side that could potentially sign Sancho is Tottenham Hotspur. The Londoners, who are sitting top of the Premier League after eight games, may look to revisit their interest in the player having been linked with him during the summer. Following the departure of Harry Kane, many thought that Spurs would struggle in attack, but the addition of James Maddison and the form of Heung-min Son has seen them thrive in his absence.

Signing a player like Sancho could be a risk for both player and club, as game time will not be a guarantee, and there seems little need to disrupt an attack which has them leading the way in the league. However, there is still over two months until the next transfer window, so it remains to be seen what their plans will be.

Manchester City - 9/1

Despite letting him go in 2017, Manchester City could be interested in a reunion with the Englishman. He never made a first-team appearance for the Premier League champions but perhaps that could change in the coming months. Although, similarly to Tottenham, City do not have a pressing need to sign an attacker, nor take a risk on a player in a situation such as Sancho's. They already have a number of options in the forward areas, especially after the signing of winger Jeremy Doku in the summer.

Pep Guardiola’s side were linked with re-signing Sancho before he opted for a move to Old Trafford, however, it would be a surprise if they were to pursue him again. The Spaniard had hinted that the winger did not want to fight for his place prior to his departure from the club.

Others – Chelsea, Aston Villa, Real Madrid, Newcastle, West Ham.

Jadon Sancho Transfer Odds - January 2024

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Any Saudi Pro League Club @ 3/1

Can This be Resolved?

If reports are to be believed, a simple apology may be all it takes for Sancho and Ten Hag to resolve their issues. Both parties feel as though they have been disrespected, but until the player says sorry to his manager, he will continue to train away from the team.

Over a month on from the winger’s social media post, there has been little to no progress on the situation, making it seemingly unlikely it will be resolved in the near future, if at all. News reports have revealed that a number of his Manchester United teammates, including his England colleagues Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire, have urged him to compromise with the club but to no avail.

Ten Hag is not afraid to establish his control, having already allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to leave the club late last year. He felt Sancho had challenged his authority, and punished him accordingly. But with Sancho’s stance remaining firm and the January transfer window looming, it does feel as though the association between the player and United is inevitably coming to a premature end.