Manchester United announced on Thursday that an agreement in principle to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund is now in place. The prodigious 21-year old is expected to complete his move to Old Trafford following Euro 2020.
Make no mistake, this is a significant statement of intent from Manchester United. There will be an expectancy for Sancho to deliver in the same way that he has in the Bundesliga since completing his move from Manchester City in 2017.
Manchester City's long-term nurturing
Like Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho was seen as a long-term project by Pep Guardiola as Manchester City slowly nurtured his prodigious talent. However, his patience did not quite match his manager's plans. Driven by a strong belief in his own ability, he took the initiative and made the decision to prove himself elsewhere.
It was a bold and brave decision by Jadon Sancho to head to Germany at such a young age but he went to a club that held the same belief: that he was ready for the senior game.
Allowed to express his talent in an attacking system that suited his game, the versatile winger made over 100 Bundesliga appearances.
He has gained a wealth of experience that he likely would not have at Manchester City. While the development plan that was in place for him would have benefited him in other ways, he can now look back on the bravery of his decision with pride.
But while Jadon Sancho arrived in Germany with little expected of him, he returns to England under a very different glare of scrutiny. The transfer fee has increased tenfold and he will be considered a focal point for Manchester United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to lead them back to former glory.
Manchester United still searching for success
Success has been in short supply at Old Trafford in recent years, and the domestic dominance that was once taken for granted has now been consigned to history. Jadon Sancho will not restore their status alone, but Ole must use him effectively if the club are to finally move forward from the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
While Sancho's style of play and obvious talent are exciting, what sets him apart from his peers is his character and self-belief. Even before he turned 18, he spurned pressure from Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City hierarchy to leave the club. Their plans for him did not match his own level of expectation.
Not only did he defy one of the most powerful organizations in the sporting world, Jadon Sancho then moved abroad to pursue his dreams and ambitions through his own vision.
He can look back on his time with Borussia Dortmund as a resounding success. The impression he left at the Westfalenstadion will be remembered for many years to come.
A free spirit who flies with the wings of his own self-confidence, Jadon Sancho must now be allowed to express himself at Old Trafford if he is to flourish at Manchester United. The external pressure will be a new experience for him, but opinions will be formed by his performances between the white lines, and he will need a manager who allows him the freedom to shine.
The England debate
One of the biggest talking points surrounding England at Euro 2020 has been team manager Gareth Southgate's decision to limit Jadon Sancho to sporadic cameo appearances.
Arguably one of the most talented and creative players in the squad, his style of play does not suit the regimented approach that has so far worked for the national team.
There is no personal criticism of Jadon Sancho in this approach, and Jack Grealish has faced similar frustrations, despite making the most of his opportunities when they have been presented to him.
The Aston Villa talisman also finds himself subject to a major summer move, but not even their elevated status in this duo is enough to influence Gareth Southgate and his preferred tactical plan.
How England choose to use Jadon Sancho is at the discretion of the manager, and his success will be judged by the subsequent results.
But what Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot afford to do is use their new star in the same way as Gareth Southgate. Restricting his freedom will only make him another failure in the transfer market.
Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba have combined effectively, if sporadically, for Manchester United when they played together in midfield.
The duo thrive on tactical freedom, but there are only so many players that can be accommodated in this way. If Jadon Sancho is expected to show reservation through tactical discipline, his spark will be diminished immediately.
Jadon Sancho could add a new page in the Manchester rivalry
The signing is a big statement from Manchester United, but only if it leads to a tactical adaptation that actively promotes attacking freedom in the final third.
Whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can get the best out of him in this way holds the key to Sancho's success.
Should that come about, Jadon Sancho will then be seen as the one that Manchester City let go. If he can deliver for Manchester United, it will be a painful reminder to their rivals that they do not always hold all the cards.
A new and exciting era in this famous old rivalry is about to begin.