Jadon Sancho has just wrapped up his fourth season for Borussia Dortmund, lifting the DFB-Pokal after a rollercoaster of a season for not only him, but the club as well. After much chatter last summer, Sancho never made his move back to England and had a slow start to the season for Die Schwargelben. While many eagle-eyed supporters will say Sancho had his head turned, there are many of us who believe that a change in personnel had as much to do with Sancho’s lack of goal production earlier in the campaign as a failed move may have. Regardless, the wing wizard very much made up for his earlier efforts with a brilliant Rückrunde, and he got his hands on his first major silverware, away from England no less.
A Different Path
Having grown up in South London, Sancho was a Chelsea FC supporter, but spent his earlier academy years at Watford. A prodigious talent from a young age, Sancho caught the eye of Manchester City and signed on to move to their academy in 2015. However, with the pressure to win at the Etihad at an all-time high, and City spending large sums of money on first team footballers, Sancho decided that he needed another move. Seemingly ready to play first team football, Sancho made a splash by signing for Borussia Dortmund in a deal that cost a reported €10 Million euros. While he was not the first Englishman to go and play in Germany, Sancho’s decision to leave his home in pursuit of his dreams was daring.
Most big English clubs do not seem to have a clear path for their youth into the first team, given that managers are on the hot seat every matchday. The Bundesliga in particular does offer its youth a chance to develop in competitive matches, which is something that is just not seen often enough in England. With the chance to play and prove himself Sancho made the move to one of Germany’s biggest clubs and was given the chance to fulfill his sporting dreams. The club instantly gave Sancho confidence by giving him the number 7 shirt upon arrival. While it may not seem like it to many, this was a clear signal of intent from the club that they believed in Sancho, and he re-paid that confidence greatly.
Since arriving in the summer of 2017, Sancho has appeared in 137 matches across all competitions for the iconic black and yellow club. Remarkably, Sancho has scored 50 goals and provided 58 assists over that time period, an impressive feat given he has been a teenager the majority of that time. However, Sancho’s impact goes beyond just the numbers themselves; he has been truly mesmerizing in key moments for the club which is exactly what winning teams look for. How many of us recall the 2019 DFL-Supercup victory over Bayern Munich? That victory felt like a turning point in the rivalry between the two Klassiker clubs. The San-show was fire that night and the Bavarians could do nothing to stop him, and while the narrative of Dortmund falling short would continue, it was not because Sancho hadn’t done enough.
Even just recently, Sancho scored a brace in the DFB-Pokal final, including a sublime opening goal which was placed perfectly into the net through heavy traffic. Looking back at that opening goal, there are not many footballers in the world that could have scored it. That touch of class pushed Borussia Dortmund to win the final easily, and Sancho led the way. In fact, Sancho should have had a hat-trick if it were not for his unselfishness as he tried to tee up club captain Marco Reus when the game was out of reach. Simply put, Dortmund are a dangerous team when Sancho is on the pitch, and the run that the team went on late during the season when he returned from injury proves exactly what kind of impact Sancho has on the outcome of matches. While BVB fell short of securing a Meisterschale during his time here, Sancho has given everything he has for the club.
Sancho is a Leader
While Sancho’s talent is not in question, it is his leadership and connection with the club that one should find very fascinating. A lot of young stars seemingly just want to enjoy their football, but with Sancho he craves something more. One can easily see his fiery passion and desire which seems several notches above many of his peers, and we have also seen Sancho finding his voice as well. Following the COVID-19 shutdown, the Bundesliga was the first league to return to action, and with all eyes on Germany’s top flight, Sancho amongst a few other stars decided to make a statement. The tragic death of George Floyd was sweeping the globe, and after a goal scored against Paderborn in late May of 2020, Sancho sent a message. Many famous athletes refuse to use their platform for anything other than furthering their own agenda, and that is perfectly fine. However, the young Englishman is clearly not an athlete to shy away from anything, and why should he? Sancho realizes that he has the ability to transcend sport and he isn’t scared to do so.
Even this past season, we have seen Sancho take new steps in his career as well. Back in late January, when Dortmund were struggling, Sancho finished a victory over Augsburg wearing the captain’s armband. Once Reus was substituted, Sancho interestingly took the captaincy over Mats Hummels who usually takes command at that point. There is no reason to think that Sancho did this on his own, which means the honor was bestowed upon him for a reason. While one can only speculate, the fact that Sancho finished with the armband several times over the latter part of the campaign is a clear message from his peers about what he offers to the squad.
A British Talent Pipeline?
Since Sancho’s arrival in 2017, several British youngsters have made the move to Germany for first team action. Schalke splashed the cash and bought Welsh winger Rabbi Matondo, while also taking Jonjoe Kenny on loan from Everton for the 2019-20 campaign. Leipzig took in the duo of Ademola Lookman and Ethan Ampadu to strengthen their ranks while Keenan Bennetts swapped Tottenham Hotspur for Borussia Mönchengladbach. Another Spurs player, Ryan Sessegnon spent this past season on loan at Hoffenheim to experience top flight first team action before heading back to North London.
The “Sancho effect” is in full swing as these young stars are considering moving abroad to further their development which is a great thing for the players, clubs, and the Bundesliga. In fact, it is highly possible that the success of Jadon Sancho gave Dortmund the inside track on the next big English superstar, Jude Bellingham. Having secured Bellingham for a teenage record fee, BVB beat out Manchester United yet again, and look to have established a track record with young English players. Even Jude has already been quoted about the possibility of his brother Jobe Bellingham coming to Dortmund as well, which would further Dortmund’s ability to snap up the best talent to then sell for high profits back to the Premier League. There should be little doubt based on this evidence that Sancho’s impact will continue long after he leaves Borussia Dortmund.
As every transfer “expert” seems to know, Manchester United are hot for Jadon Sancho even after his failed move last summer. Dortmund have seemingly placed the “before preseason begins” deadline on Sancho being sold back to England again this summer. Many sources are reporting that the deal is close, while others state that Dortmund have not received any offers as of yet. It appears that BVB supporters could be in for another long transfer saga, even though the player himself has asked for his future to be sorted before the European Championships kick off June 11th.
Like every other supporter, I desperately want to keep Sancho at the club. There is nothing quite like watching this young man perform at the highest level, and in sporting terms I believe Dortmund can offer anything United can at this point. Nevertheless, we know it is Sancho’s wish to return home and it is hard to argue with that. The superstar with endless swagger has given the club everything we could ask for, and I for one will be cheering him on no matter which shirt he will be wearing next season.