Manchester City is a dreaded territory for youngsters.
Despite the club’s famed Elite Developmental Squad (EDS), promising starlets tends to slip through the cracks in search of greener pastures. Jadon Sancho didn’t think twice when Borussia Dortmund visited in 2017.
City’s immeasurable thirst for silverware has quenched the club’s hunger and eyes for prospects. With a frightfully loaded wallet, there’s usually no drive to develop homegrown talents. Slowly, the Etihad is drifting into something of a death zone for players who don’t command huge outlays.
Kelechi Iheanacho came closest to breaking that hoodoo in 2015. Signed without any fanfare, the Nigerian’s immense star shone so brightly that it caused brilliant flashes to the eyes. Pep Guardiola, however, had shades. Iheanacho was farmed out to Leicester City last year.
The 22-year-old wasn’t alone in the mass clear out. Ten others were enough companion, including Sancho. Unlike Iheanacho, the English youngster was never granted a shot with the first team despite showing immense promise.
His departure was surprising, albeit, followed the club’s recent template. Sancho was highly regarded.
At 15, he shot his way to prominence, netting 15 goals and providing four assists in the 2015/16 season. His progress continued with City’s reserves scoring five times the following year. Still, there were no assurances for his future at the Etihad.
Further evidence of his burgeoning talent came for England. After six goals for the U16s, Sancho then notched 13 in 16 matches for the U17s, providing seven assists as well. He was key to the team’s progress to the Euro final in Croatia. England lost on penalties to
Spain but Sancho was named the tournament’s top player.
Fast, skillful, creative and physically strong, Sancho is the definition of a modern day winger. He is as quick as they come and has a wonderful touch which leaves defenders trailing in his wake.
Yet it is his knack for hitting the target that sets him apart. Naturally right-footed, he prefers to play on the left side of a front three. According to the player himself, his main strength is in 1v1’s.
His controversial switch to Germany came at a time Dortmund were still reeling over Ousmane Dembele’s move to Barcelona. He was never emphasized as a direct replacement, though. Yet Sancho brought back memories of the Frenchman when he ultimately overcame a series of frustrating injuries towards the end of last season.
This term, the 18-year-old is yet to start a game but five cameo appearances have turned heads at Westfalenstadion. His European-high five assists in just 124 minutes on the pitch have backed Lucien Favre’s side rise to the top of the Bundesliga. BVB couldn’t wait till the season’s end to reward the forward.
“Jadon Sancho is definitely one of the most exciting players in Europe,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc. “This contract extension is the result of his excellent development.”
The young Englishman is glad his risk to leave home paid off. “I’m very glad I decided to join Dortmund just over a year ago because everything I’d heard turned out to be true,” Sancho declared. “I can develop brilliantly here. I’m very happy and so proud to be part of this team. It’s fantastic.”
Since Sancho’s departure, City has splashed almost £100m on Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez. The 18-year-old would, of course, have saved the club that funds and perhaps slightly offered a better long-term solution.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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