After months and months and months of waiting, Manchester United have finally signed Jadon Sancho. The Red Devils have agreed to an €85 million fee for the Englishman with Borussia Dortmund, making Sancho the third most expensive player in the club’s history after Paul Pogba and Harry Maguire.
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This has been a transfer that is two years in the making, with Jadon Sancho always destined to return to his homeland after leaving for Germany in 2017. Sancho has enjoyed three fantastic seasons at Dortmund and has continued his meteoric rise to become one of the best young players in the world.
The Englishman has managed 108 goals and assists in only 108 starts for the German club and is only one of five players to register 15 goals and 15 assists in one league season in the last decade. The other four players being Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard (twice) and Lionel Messi (four times). Not bad company, right?
Style of Play
Jadon Sancho is predominantly a right-winger blessed with flair, a bag of tricks and some blistering pace. The 21-year-old loves to run with the ball at his feet and cut inside from the wing, averaging 3.86 completed dribbles per 90 minutes last season. Sancho also excels at taking on defenders in 1v1 situations and is incredibly skilful on the ball, averaging in the 97th percentile for the number of players dribbled past per 90 minutes (4.08).
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Aside from his dribbling, it’s Sancho’s passing and vision that stand out, with the winger averaging 3.1 key passes per game last season. Sancho is a nightmare for fullbacks to deal with due to this rare combination of trickery and vision.
Sancho’s decision-making is also a cut above what one expects from a 21-year-old. His output in terms of both goals and assists is rare for someone so young and shows that he isn’t fazed in pressure situations.
However, what separates Sancho from the rest and truly makes him an elite level talent is his mentality. Sancho left Watford and his family in London for Manchester City at 14, before taking the path less travelled, leaving for Borussia Dortmund and Germany at the tender age of 17 in search of more regular playing time.
Sancho’s desire and hunger to be the best know no boundaries and now at 21, he has the world at his feet.
How United can line up with Sancho
Sancho’s profile makes him a perfect fit for Manchester United. His pace, agility and ability to play on the counter-attack is something United have been longing for, for quite some time. Moreover, Manchester United desperately need a right-winger and Sancho plugs that gap perfectly. Daniel James has struggled at United since he arrived in 2019 and while Mason Greenwood has performed well on the right over the past two seasons, it is clear that his long-term future lies at centre-forward.
At United, Sancho will play on the right side of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 system which is quite similar to his role in Dortmund. A front three of Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho will be feared across Europe and might be considered as the best attacking trio in England.
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) July 1, 2021
Sancho’s pace and directness suits Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s counter-attacking style and the 21-year-old can play out wide or through the middle, allowing the Norwegian to interchange his position depending on the opposition.
Sancho’s presence on the wing would also benefit the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek. Unlike Greenwood or Mata who cut inside, Sancho spreads the pitch with his width and stretches opposition defences, leaving more space for players like Fernandes to operate in.
The midfield double pivot of Paul Pogba (if he stays) and Scott McTominay also stands to benefit from Sancho’s presence in the team. Pogba enjoys making runs from midfield into the penalty box, and Sancho has excelled in picking out Dortmund midfielders such as Axel Witsel and Jude Bellingham when they make late runs into the box.
Sancho’s arrival also boosts the overall mood and atmosphere around Old Trafford, bringing back a sense of optimism and belief. If the Englishman can recreate his Dortmund form in Manchester, it gives United the extra firepower they need to challenge the noisy neighbours and their age-old rivals down the M62 and break the hegemony that has dominated the Premier League over the past four seasons.
The traditions rooted in Manchester are those of marauding wingers running down the by-line and the signing of this young English sensation can help United restore this attacking pride and philosophy that seems to have been lost in recent years. Greats such as George Best, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo have worn the historic number 7 shirt and Jadon Sancho could be the next in line to grace the hallowed turf in Manchester, don this mantle and etch his name in glory at the Theatre of Dreams.
[Inage Credit: Jadon Sancho]