Since completing an £8 million move from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, Jadon Sancho has become one of the most sought-after teenage stars in Europe. Despite his young age, the Manchester City academy graduate has established himself as one of Bundesliga's standout performers, catching the eye of numerous European powerhouses.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a sensational breakthrough season at Signal Iduna Park in the 2018-19 campaign, clocking up 13 goals and 19 assists across all competitions. He continued his scintillating form this term, scoring 14 goals and providing 15 assists in 23 Bundesliga outings, keeping BVB firmly in contention for the title.
Although deemed indispensable, the England international, who has played a pivotal role in Dortmund’s quest for Bundesliga glory, will hardly remain in North Rhine-Westphalia beyond the summer. BVB sporting director, Michel Zorc, recently hailed the winger’s value to the club but refused to rule out his summer departure.
Well-aware of the interest from Europe’s big guns, the German heavyweights will probably offload the in-demand winger at the end of the season to make the most out of his sale. Sancho’s current deal is due to expire in the summer of 2022 but growing interest in his services will likely see him leave the club sooner.
A host of European giants have expressed their desire to see the lightning-quick forward defend their colours, but in this article, we take a look at the top five most likely destinations for Dortmund's prized young asset.
#1 Manchester United
Manchester United hold a long-term affection for Sancho as they tried to lure him to Old Trafford last summer before Dortmund clarified that their jewel was not for sale. The Red Devils still refused to abandon their interest in the 19-year-old and are weighing up a fresh attempt as soon as the transfer window reopens.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate to recruit a top-class forward to bolster United’s chances both in Europe and England and is eager to land Marcus Rashford's international teammate. The Norwegian’s idea is to assemble a strong unit of hungry, young players, and the Englishman perfectly fits the bill. Moreover, teaming up Rashford and Sancho at Old Trafford could benefit the England national team and United for years to come.
Despite Mason Greenwood’s impressive maiden season at the senior level, the Manchester giants need to inject fresh blood into their squad and Sancho seems to be a preferable choice. His staggering £120million price tag may, however, require the club to sacrifice some of their first-team players.
Paul Pogba is one of the top candidates to leave the Theatre of Dreams at the end of the season, which would help United raise funds for a summer spending spree. Meanwhile, Juan Mata could also be shown the door, which would further pave the way for Sancho to make a switch.
After seeing their transfer ban lifted by UEFA on the eve of the January transfer window, Chelsea are believed to have already begun making plans for the summer. Sancho is one of the top targets for Frank Lampard, who is hopeful of an opportunity to overhaul a squad that has accomplished some extraordinary things despite their limitations this season.
The Blues’ attacking line requires major improvements, according to the English manager, who is eager to fight Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title next season. Lampard is keen to capture Sancho as he sees him as an upgrade to Willian and Pedro. With the Brazilian’s future at Stamford Bridge hanging in the balance, Sancho’s arrival has become somewhat a necessity.
The London giants will have a substantial summer budget and will certainly be able to meet the exorbitant price tag that Sancho’s services would command. If they secure Champions League promotion, they could further step up their interest in the pacey Englishman in the summer and beat United to his signature, especially if the Red Devils miss out on qualifying for Europe’s premier competition.
Capable of covering both wings equally well, the highly-rated youngster could be a long-term replacement for Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid last summer.
Liverpool recently joined the race for Sancho in light of Mohamed Salah’s uncertain future at Anfield. However, even if he stays, the Egyptian forward and his attacking colleague Sadio Mane will not be able to help the club for a substantial chunk of the 2020-21 season due to their international commitments.
Salah and Mane will represent their respective countries at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, which will leave Jurgen Klopp short of reliable attacking options. After having two relatively quiet transfer windows, the runaway Premier League leaders are expected to spend big in the summer and the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss will likely focus on reinforcing his attack.
Liverpool's Champions League elimination to Atletico Madrid was a wake-up call for Klopp to strengthen his squad and secure much-needed depth in a number of positions. The German manager is known for keeping close tabs on developments in his native country and has presumably added Sancho to his wishlist, along with the Bayer Leverkusen starlet Kai Havertz.
Sancho’s arrival may not necessarily depend on whether or not Salah will play for the Merseysiders next season but rather on the player’s preference. The Reds have one of the most potent attacks in Europe but the presence of the all-star trio of Mane, Salah, and Roberto Firmino, could be repulsive for Sancho, who will not be keen on playing second fiddle to any player.
The Englishman is not the type of player who would reconcile with a backup role, which could be the main stumbling block in this deal. So, it will be up to Klopp to reassure the youngster that he will be at the centre of Liverpool’s long-term project.
#4 Real Madrid
Real Madrid have been seeking a suitable replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo ever since the Portuguese superstar joined Juventus in 2018. Although Florentino Perez hoped the signing of Eden Hazard would help mitigate the damage, the Belgium international has endured an utterly disappointing first season at the Santiago Bernabeu.
With Marco Asensio injured and Gareth Bale more focused on his off-field activities, Karim Benzema has been shouldering the goalscoring burden all by himself this season. Their big-money signing Luka Jovic has also failed to live up to expectations, leaving Zinedine Zidane with a sizeable headache.
The 13-time European champions have emerged as possible candidates to snap up Sancho and considering Perez’s reputation as a ‘mastermind’, who is well-skilled in luring high-profile targets to the Spanish capital, Los Blancos remain a plausible solution for the Dortmund teenager.
There’s no doubt that Sancho would be a major addition to the current squad, although Los Merengues may find it difficult to materialise the deal. In fact, the youngster has recently revealed his affection for the Premier League, naming it as his most attractive destination. Having said that, when Real Madrid come knocking at the door, anything can happen.
#5 Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain are already preparing for life after Neymar, who seems destined for a return to Barcelona in the summer. The Brazilian’s departure would leave a massive void in Thomas Tuchel’s attacking set-up, that very few players in the world are capable of filling.
Sancho is undoubtedly one of the players capable of taking on the role, which is why the perennial Ligue 1 champions have been closely monitoring his development. The French giants’ transfer list features the Englishman and they certainly have the economic resources to pull the deal through.
Since PSG have already deemed Kylian Mbappe unsellable, Sancho’s potential signing would see the club possess two of the most highly-rated young forwards in their squad. If they can successfully pair them up, they may end up with a settled attack that will reap massive benefits for them for years to come.
Published 23 Mar 2020, 17:12 IST