The Comparison: Bukayo Saka vs Jadon Sancho

Ismail Ansar

The Comparison: Bukayo Saka vs Jadon Sancho

Only two years of age separate Englishmen Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who have both been touted as two of the best footballers to have come out of England in recent years.

Both rapid wingers with trickery and the ability to beat a man and put the ball in the back of the net, there has been a fervent debate between not only football fans, but journalists and pundits about what they are capable of and what they will do in the game.

The pair now play for two of the biggest clubs in the country, but they have taken different journeys to get to where they currently are. Saka joined Arsenal's famed Hale End academy at the age of seven, being handed a professional deal after turning 17 and was subsequently promoted to the senior side in 2018, where he has kicked on to be regarded as one of Arsenal's best players.

His counterpart Sancho took a more unorthodox route, leaving Manchester City's academy to complete a surprise £8m transfer to Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in 2017. Sancho would take the league by storm in his four years at Die Borussen, registering a total of 89 goal involvements in his 104 Bundesliga appearances. This form earned him a £73m transfer to Manchester United in the summer of 2021.

Premier League Tips

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The Numbers

Jadon Sancho's long-talked-about transfer back to the Premier League finally came to fruition last summer, and it was the impressive numbers that he was putting up at Dortmund that got him this move.

After registering only a solitary goal in 12 appearances in his first season at the Signal Iduna Park, Sancho would burst into life in his second season by putting the ball in the back of the net 12 times and assisting a teammate 18 times, for a total of 30 goal involvements in 34 appearances - a quite stunning upturn in form.

The Camberwell-born winger improved on his goalscoring figures the season after, bagging 17 and assisting a teammate 17 times for a total of 34 goal involvements. And despite regressing slightly by his high standards in his final season at the club, he still managed to put up a respectable eight goals and 12 assists in 26 appearances, alongside 11 goal involvements in 21 Champions League matches.

However, since returning to England, Sancho has failed to show the form that convinced Manchester United to part with over £70m for his services, with a dismal return of just three goals and three assists in his 24 league outings this season, alongside a solitary Champions League goal. He has failed to truly make an impact this season, and Manchester United fans have been underwhelmed by him until the start of December. Indeed, the forward didn't score his first goal for the club until late November.

Bukayo Saka, who is the first player born in the 21st century to play in a Premier League match, has scored 15 goals and laid on 13 assists in his 87 Premier League outings.

Despite Saka’s figures not seeming like impressive numbers, considering that the then-teenage Saka was putting up these figures being played out of position and in a dysfunctional Arsenal squad beset by on and off-pitch problems is indicative of his quality. In assists in all competitions by Premier League players in 2020, only Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold and Man City's Kevin De Bruyne had registered more than Saka.

Now being played further forward in his natural position, Saka has established himself as one of Arsenal's key players and is regarded as one of the most dangerous forwards in the Premier League.

But questions surround both players - is the pace and physicality of the Premier League, which is so different to the Bundesliga and its offering of time and space of the ball, showing Sancho's limitations in the Premier League?

And is Saka a player that can get Arsenal to where they want to be - back into Europe's premier competition. Despite impressive showings for Arsenal in the Europa League, Saka has not played in the Champions League against Europe's elite teams. Can he get Arsenal back into the competition, and impress where Sancho has, or is he not good enough?

England Specials

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What do Their Trajectories Look Like?

With Sancho being 22-years-old and Saka two years younger at 20, the two can play at the top level for at least another decade.

Both players have already been capped for the national side and were unlucky in losing the Euro 2020 final against Italy, a match in which they actually both missed their spot-kicks in the penalty shootout. With the national side full of young, talented and motivated players, and with a World Cup just around the corner and another European Championship in 2 years, the pair have a very good chance of lifting silverware for their country in the near future.

With Sancho already the recipient of DFB-Pokal, DFL-Supercup and U-17 World Cup winners medals, if Manchester United as a club sort out their managerial problems and recruit the right players, there is potential for Sancho to add more to his cabinet.

Saka is the same, already counting an FA Cup and Community Shield in his medal cabinet, as well an Arsenal Player Of The Season award. And with Mikel Arteta building something special at Arsenal, there is potential for Saka to add to his medal haul in the future. And with both Madrid clubs and Juventus expressing an interest in the Ealing-born forward, if he were to leave Arsenal he would be sure to taste success at those clubs.

Premier League Tips

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MANCHESTER UNITED TO FINISH IN THE TOP FOUR 2021/22 @ 11/2

How Their Clubs' Fortunes Could Impact Their Careers

Saka plays for Arsenal, who have been in a state of flux for many years. Despite regularly signing great players and occasionally winning domestic trophies, they failed in the Premier League and in Europe. But with Mikel Arteta taking over the club he once plied his trade at, the fortunes of the Gunners seem to have reversed.

Gone are the days of overpaid stars and a seeming lack of tactics from the manager. Instead, the squad is full of players who aren't considered superstars, but who as a collective, are playing great football and seem to indicate that the club is a serious contender for top four and trophies once again. With Arteta's footballing project, which already includes an FA Cup, seemingly indicating a renaissance for the Gunners, the future for Saka looks bright.

When Sancho completed his transfer to the Red Devils, club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjær was in charge at the club. But, ever since his sacking in November, the fourth manager sacked by the club since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, there has been constant speculation about who would take over and what is United's plan for the future.

German coach, Ralf Rangnick was soon announced as Solskjær's replacement, but his arrival has failed to inspire any serious upturn in form for United. Indeed, the club have just been treading water since the German's arrival, occasionally picking up points but failing to challenge for the top four and being knocked out of all competitions.

With PSG's Mauricio Pochettino or Ajax's Erik ten Hag mooted to take over in the summer and with no ideas of the players that either man would want to buy and sell, the future for Manchester United, and maybe for Sancho, looks uncertain.

Premier League Exact Top 4 Order Tips

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The Future

Ever since his breakthrough, Saka has managed to nail down a starting spot in the Arsenal starting XI and establish himself as an important player for the club.

His goalscoring and ability to create chances out of nothing make him a threat, and one of Arsenal's key men. He will, as one of the talented group of youngsters currently at the club, undoubtedly be part of manager Mikel Arteta's plans for the future.

There are already reports that senior officials at the Emirates Stadium have initiated contract extension talks, showing how even club officials see the 20-year-old as a player that will be there for many years. And with reinforcements for problem areas of the squad likely in the summer, it will mean that pretty soon Arsenal hope to have a team challenging for major honours, and Saka will undoubtedly hope be a major part of that, especially with his previous comments indicating that he hopes to be at the North London side for a long time.

Despite the current uncertainty surrounding Manchester United, one thing that is certain to be around in the future is Jadon Sancho.

With big money having been spent on enticing the winger to Old Trafford, the club will be hoping to see more from him and won't be giving up on him just yet. With a large investment like the one placed in Sancho, time is key. That is why he was offered a 5-year contract with the option of a sixth when signing, because United view him as an asset that although may take a bit of time to come good, he eventually will.

Although his first season back in England has been poor, he is still a very talented player. Club chiefs will be hoping that next season he will step up. Still only 22, he has plenty of time to improve and could potentially go down as a legend at the club in the coming seasons.

Ultimately, both players will be key for their clubs in the future.


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