As Jadon Sancho moves closer to joining Manchester United, Ace Football looks back on why he left local rivals Manchester City in the first place.
After more than a year of trying to sign Jadon Sancho, Manchester United have got their man. The Red Devils and Borussia Dortmund have both confirmed a deal of €85 million-plus add-ons. All that’s left now is for the winger to undergo a medical and sign a five-year contract, thus bringing an end to one of the longest-running transfer sagas in recent years.
But while the red side of Manchester celebrates its latest acquisition, one can’t help but wonder what might have been on the other end.
It’s been four years already since Sancho last suited up for Manchester City. A lot has changed since then. The Englishman has evolved into one of Europe’s biggest young talents, supplying double figures for goals and assists in each of his last three seasons at Dortmund. The only player that can match him in this respect is Lionel Messi.
Since the start of the 2018/19 season, only two players have scored 30+ goals and provided 30+ assists in a top-five European league.
Lionel Messi 🤝 Jadon Sancho pic.twitter.com/exUDA3ELgW
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 30, 2021
Nobody can deny the 21-year-old’s development in Germany has been impressive. It’s prompted several young English footballers to follow in his wake, including Jude Bellingham and Ryan Sessegnon, but was it really necessary to leave City for a move abroad in the first place?
It’s a question many fans have pondered over the years, and one Sancho answered back in the summer of 2019.
“When I left City, there was a lot of people that doubted me – they were like “oh you shouldn’t have left Pep Guardiola” – but I just thought that it was the best thing for me,” he told SoccerBible.
“I still have love for Pep. I still love everyone at the club. They took me from Watford and helped me develop into who I am today, and obviously going to Dortmund.
“They helped with a bigger step for me – making my debut. And now I’ve made my debut I’ve expressed myself and now I’m in the position where I am today.
“I’m just so grateful to everyone who’s been a part of my journey so far. Watford as well, started off life at Watford, so it’s been really good.”
What did Guardiola have to say?
Moving to Dortmund, a club that could offer more first-team opportunities, was the best thing in Sancho’s mind.
City rated the Londoner highly. He had impressed in his two years at the club’s academy. The chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, even announced plans to fast-track him into Pep Guardiola’s squad alongside Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz in May 2017. Out of the trio, however, only Foden remains.
Sancho did a U-turn on accepting a contract offer from City later that year; prompting him to miss the first-team’s pre-season tour. He was still only 17 years old at the time. But while time was still very much on his side, patience was not.
Sancho didn’t get the assurances of the regular game he sought and changed his mind about committing his future to City. He then left the club in a €7.84 million deadline day move to Dortmund in August 2017.
“We [had an] agreement with Sancho, we shook our hands, we offered him a huge deal in terms of the salary, he would have been a well paid in the academy,” said Guardiola in a press conference later that year.
“We believed the next step is to train every single day like it happened with Foden and Brahim would have trained every single day with us, he decided or [his advisers] decided I will not sign the contract.
“And we said OK you are not going to travel to the States because if you are not going to sign the contract, you are not going to the States, you are going to stay here.
“After that, the last two or three weeks he didn’t appear in the training sessions. He should come, but he didn’t. I said: ‘Where are you?’ I don’t know, he didn’t train and after an agreement with Dortmund he played there and all I can say is big luck to him because he has a huge talent.”