Borussia Dortmund v PSG: Jadon Sancho’s future analysed

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Comment on the photo, With 40 goals in the Bundesliga, Jadon Sancho is the most prolific English player in the competition

  • author, Simon Stone
  • Role, Senior football news correspondent

Jadon Sancho reached a major milestone with his goal for Borussia Dortmund against RB Leipzig at the weekend.

This means he has overtaken Tony Woodcock as the most prolific English player in the Bundesliga.

Considering that Harry Kane has already scored 35 league goals for Bayern Munich this season, Sancho’s new record of 40 will not last long.

However, the fact of his achievement says a lot about his productivity levels with Dortmund.

Sancho’s three goals in 16 appearances in his second spell at the club, on loan, is an improvement on the 12 goals in 82 appearances he scored at Manchester United.

By consensus, Sancho has yet to reach the same heights since his return to the club that prompted United to pay £73m for the 24-year-old in 2021. But he is more content.

When Sancho returned to the club’s training ground and said “It’s like coming home”, it wasn’t just words. It’s something the England international feels, as if a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

England’s representation in the Champions League semi-final focused on the battle of Kane and Jude Bellingham.

However, Sancho, who sat out United’s horrific season that ended in group stage exits at the hands of Bayern and Copenhagen, also finds himself trying to follow Steve McManaman to Real Madrid in 2002 as the last English player to play in a Champions League final. For an outdoor club.

Dortmund will host Paris Saint-Germain, the French champion, on Wednesday in the first leg of the semi-final, hoping to qualify for the final for the first time since 2013.

Relations are tense at United and in Dortmund

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Comment on the photo, Manchester United have signed Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund for £73m in 2021.

Sancho’s media engagements have been very limited since his return to Germany.

Interview requests tend to be turned down as he is still a United player. It’s probably because of what led to his exit from United.

Upon hearing after the defeat to Arsenal in September that Erik ten Hag had said Sancho had been left out of his squad for the match due to his performance in training, the winger responded on social media.

He claimed that his manager made him a “scapegoat.” “Please don’t believe everything you read,” he added. “I will not allow people to say things that are absolutely untrue.”

Ten Hag demanded an apology. While the post was shared on social media, an apology never followed.

In response to a question about Sancho reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League after defeating Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, Ten Hag said: “We know that Jadon Sancho is a great footballer, and this is not a surprise for us. This is not the case.”

However, the idea that it reflects poorly on Sancho’s character does not make sense.

He is very popular in Dortmund’s dressing room. Away from the pitch, he is polite, friendly and generous with his time, as evidenced by a recent chance encounter at a local hotel with a family he knew from Dortmund the first time around.

Sancho was happy to see the family again. He remembered who they were, even his stepson who was just visiting Germany from his current base in Brazil.

The experience was real. The hugs that accompanied the greeting were warm and genuine. Sancho gave the impression of being in an environment he felt comfortable with. His perception that he is awkward and stubborn does not match reality.

High demands in Dortmund

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Comment on the photo, Jadon Sancho scored 10 goals and made two assists in 23 matches in all competitions with Borussia Dortmund this season.

Speaking to in-house media after scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 win against Werder Bremen on March 9, Sancho said he knew the demands on him were high.

“There will always be pressure,” he said. “Because of what I did last time at Dortmund – scoring a goal and an assist in every game – I can understand that the fans expect a lot from me. I expect a lot from myself.

“I don’t blame them if they’re angry with me if I don’t score or contribute. That’s what I expect from myself.

“They believe in me and I’m really grateful that they give me the opportunity week after week to show what I can do.”

Given that 20 weeks have passed between Sancho’s 30-minute appearance for United against Nottingham Forest in August and his second Dortmund debut, in Darmstadt on January 13, it is no surprise that Sancho will find it difficult to get into the rhythm that will allow him to restart playing time. Regular match-winning contributions since his first spell at the club.

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said before the defeat by Leipzig that Sancho “has not yet reached the peak of his performance.”

“But we know that he can reach this maximum very quickly,” Terzic added. “He has an extraordinary talent and gives us a lot of fun.”

Respected football writer Cedric Gebhardt, who covers Dortmund for Ruhr Nachrichten, agrees that Sancho is not at the level of his first task.

“He lacks the ease and confidence of his first spell at Dortmund,” says Gebhart. “He doesn’t dribble much, he lacks speed, and he loses the ball a lot.”

What does the future hold?

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Comment on the photo, Sancho’s future at Manchester United is uncertain after a public row with manager Erik Ten Hag

What does the future hold?

Most fans are happy to have Sancho back.

“We’ve had many players come back to us over the years, but things haven’t usually gone well,” says Nina Thielemann, of the popular Dortmund fan site Schwatzgelb.com.

“But I thought this was a good idea. I feel Jadon is at home with us and can help the club.

“It would be a shame if he doesn’t get back to his old self. It would be nice if he gets the chance to shine again here.

Whether that will happen is a matter of debate.

In an ideal world, Dortmund would keep the player. This is what the club’s senior officials want. But the deal that brought Sancho back financially made sense.

For the loan to be repeated next season, or to turn into a permanent transfer, it will require major concessions from all parties. Dortmund simply cannot match the salary Sancho earns at United. But United, under intense pressure to comply with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, cannot simply hand over assets of this size.

It is clear that there will be no future for Sancho at Old Trafford if Ten Hag remains as manager. But he may not do so, opening up the possibility of a return to United even if the feeling persists that he will be playing elsewhere next season.

Meanwhile, Dortmund faces a Champions League semi-final match.

Dortmund may be an odd team, but after winning a group that included Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Newcastle before eliminating Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, Dortmund should not be written off.

Ironically, lifting the trophy, which the club won in 1997 with a side that included former Scotland midfielder Paul Lambert, would provide prize money that could be used to bring back Sancho.

It’s a great subplot to a strange story.

When Sancho left Dortmund, winning the Champions League was one of his goals. Little did he know that his first good shot at the award would be right where he began his senior career.

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