Former Manchester City prospect Jadon Sancho has set tongues wagging with his displays for Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga this year.
Sancho is one of a number of young English players who have decided to test themselves abroad in order to further their development – and he is reaping the rewards.
We’ve taken a closer look at his progress in Dortmund to date. Expect to hear much more about him in the future.
Sancho’s move from Manchester City to Dortmund was part of an ongoing trend of young English prospects moving abroad, and it was certainly one of the most eye-catching.
Dortmund were so convinced of the then 17-year-old’s talents, they decided to part with around £8million for a player who had yet to make an appearance in senior football.
Sancho rejected interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham while opting for Germany and also turned down the offer of a new contract worth £30,000 at City.
Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc hailed Sancho as “one of the greatest talents in European football” and, perhaps aiming a pointed message at the Premier League, vowed that the starlet “will definitely play at BVB”.
In another striking vote of confidence, Sancho was immediately handed the No.7 shirt, which had been vacated after Ousmane Dembele joined Barcelona.
It has not all been plain sailing for Sancho, however, who had to remain patient for the first six months of his time in Germany.
The winger faced a daunting task to break into his new club’s first team, fighting for a place in the side with the likes of Mario Götze, Christian Pulisic, Andre Schürrle, Shinji Kagawa, Andrey Yarmolenko and Marco Reus.
To complicate matters further, Dortmund were struggling in Bundesliga and manager Peter Bosz was replaced by Peter Stöger in December.
As a result, Sancho made just two cameo appearances in the first half of 2017-18. Thankfully, that all began to change in the New Year.
Despite having just 16 minutes of Bundesliga football to his name, on January 14, Stöger put his faith in Sancho by handing him his first senior start.
With Christian Pulisic absent, Sancho was among Dortmund’s bright sparks and came close to forcing a winner when his shot hit the woodwork in a 0-0 draw with Wolfsburg.
From then on, he was deemed ready to be more regularly involved with Die Schwarzgelben’s first team.
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) January 14, 2018
Less than a week on from his first start, Sancho delivered his first assist in a 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin.
But his high point came in April, as Dortmund welcomed Bayer Leverkusen aiming to leapfrog the visitors into third.
Sancho became the first Englishman to score for Dortmund and the youngest Englishman to score in Bundesliga history when he netted in front of the Yellow Wall in the 13th minute.
And he wasn’t done there, providing assists for Marco Reus and Maximilian Philipp to inspire the hosts to a 4-0 victory.
“His acceleration is brutal, he can do a lot of damage with his quick changes of direction,” Philipp said of his team-mate.
“Maybe he’s still a bit too playful. He still has a lot to learn and work hard but for an 18-year-old, that was a special performance.”
Jadon Sancho (18) for Borussia Dortmund since the start of 2018 – all competitions:
• 781 minutes
• 14 games
• 1 goal
• 7 assists
Take notice, everyone, because what he's doing is extraordinary. pic.twitter.com/f3FRcskCcX
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) September 14, 2018
Sancho is yet to start for Dortmund in 2018-19, but he is already developing a reputation as an assist king.
In four substitute appearances this term, totalling 96 minutes of first-team football, the attacker has already contributed four assists – a rate of one every 24 minutes.
While he may be seen as a something of an impact sub by new boss Lucien Favre, such exciting cameos from the bench are leading for calls to start the youngster.
His most recent display in a 3-1 win against Eintracht Frankfurt, in which created the second goal and had a hand in the third, earned praise from both Favre and Zorc, with the former saying the player “added new impulses” to Dortmund’s attack.
If Sancho does break into Dortmund’s starting XI in the coming months, it can’t be long before we see one of the most exciting prospects in Europe in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
The only way I can get over the horror of another international break is if Southgate calls up Jadon Sancho.
Averaging an assist/goal every 105 minutes and a successful dribble every 41 mins in the Bundesliga with Dortmund.
Genuinely offers something England lack.
— Oliver Young-Myles (@OMyles90) September 15, 2018