‘A hybrid of the modern age’

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July 2, 2021
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    Jadon Sancho in action for Borussia DortmundJadon Sancho joined Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City aged 17

    The 'cultural reboot' Manchester United let it be known they were aiming for after Jose Mourinho's departure and the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2018 is difficult to define.

    United are not the only ones to talk about their "DNA" as though there is a coherent thread running through an organisation more than 100 years old.

    In truth, it is merely a nod to the time a club was at its best – reminders which recapture former glories, and generate a feel-good factor with the promise of better times to come.

    To that end, the prospect of a young Londoner playing on the right wing at Old Trafford, even if the famous number seven shirt cannot be his just yet as it belongs to Edinson Cavani, brings recollections of David Beckham.

    And his style, speed, directness and ability to beat an opponent with a deft piece of skill or movement of the hips, is straight out of the playbook created by, among others, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and George Best.

    The return of Jadon Sancho to Manchester, four years after he left City for Borussia Dortmund, will be one of the biggest deals of the summer, both for the price and the excitement it generates.

    That his value has gone from £10m to £73m underlines the progress the 21-year-old has made in Germany.

    But what can United supporters expect from a player returning home to a country where he has never even made the bench for a Premier League game?

    • Daily Euros podcast: Premier League moves and England grooves

    Coming 'home'

    A lot has happened to Sancho since he went to the Bundesliga.

    The decision to move there was triggered by a series of performances during the 2017 European Under-17 Championship, where he was player of the tournament as England reached the final.

    Sancho's camp felt the teenager was capable of more than was being offered by the new contract presented to him by Manchester City. A £30,000 weekly salary was evidence of City's hopes for Sancho but, as proved to be the case with Phil Foden, manager Pep Guardiola felt gradual exposure to the first team was the best way forward.

    Sancho didn't want to wait. And Dortmund offered him an opportunity.

    Twelfth in the Forbes list of the world's richest clubs, they are still, financially, a long way behind Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.

    Attracting youth is a way of bridging the gap. When they pitch to youngsters, they show off their teamsheet. Last season that included Sancho, Erling Braut Haaland, Jude Bellingham and Gio Reyna. Haaland is 20, Bellingham and Reyna just 18.

    "It is obvious," said Sancho, when asked in a 2019 interview why he joined Dortmund. "They play a lot of young players. They have faith in young players.

    "It is a big club, in a good league, so why not?"

    Sancho's reasoning was sound – and the outcome justifies him snubbing City's contract offer, and the brief time he spent refusing to train at City as his path away was plotted.

    But there was an unexpected spin-off, which Sancho can no longer be shielded from.

    There is no doubting his popularity in the Dortmund squad. Images of him dancing on the table, leading the celebrations after their German Cup final victory – the only significant honour during his time at the club – show a young man happy in his surroundings, and with his team-mates.

    Sancho scored twice in the 4-1 hammering of RB Leipzig so he had every reason to be pleased. However, those scenes largely went unnoticed in England. For most, analysis of Sancho's career has been through periodic reminders of goals or assists.

    Given he has never been particularly comfortable in the spotlight or doing media, that suited him just fine.

    "Dortmund is very quiet," said Sancho. "London is busier. Dortmund is very chilled, but I like this because I can relax."

    In returning to England, the option of operating under the radar is no longer there.

    Sancho is in a better place to handle the scrutiny than he was at 17. But it exists – and getting used to it may not be easy.

    • Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho: Their two routes to the top

    Pep Guardiola worked with Jadon Sancho before he left Manchester CityPep Guardiola worked with Jadon Sancho before he left Manchester City

    The street footballer

    Sancho is a hybrid of the modern age.

    He is an academy product, first at Watford, then at City, but he learned how to play – and how to beat opponents – in street football near his estate in Kennington. He was only seven but would turn up at local tournaments hoping one of the teams was short so he could get a game.

    It's that personal history Sancho paid homage to in the design for his own boot collection.

    "The street football will never leave me," he said in an interview with Dortmund's YouTube channel. "I grew up with it.

    "What I learned from street football is what I have always been doing. It is very different. Football is about having fun."

    People around Dortmund wondered prior to Euro 2020 whether England boss Gareth Southgate knew how to integrate that talent into his team. Four games later, Sancho has played for just six minutes.

    Now the job falls to Solskjaer.

    "My strengths? Skills, dribbling, scoring," Sancho said recently.

    After missing the Champions League quarter-final defeat by Manchester City with a thigh injury, Sancho returned for all but the first match of the eight-game winning run which earned Dortmund their first silverware in four seasons and swept them back into the Champions League, having been seven points off the pace with seven games remaining.

    Sancho scored four goals in that sequence. He also claimed two assists and was man of the match twice.

    His overall tally of 16 goals and 20 assists in all competitions, added to 20 and 20 respectively from the previous campaign, underlines his status as one of Europe's most dangerous young players. It is why United have been prepared to make him the fourth most expensive signing in the club's history, after Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire and Romelu Lukaku.

    Old head on young shoulders

    Sancho was in year eight when he was placed in a boarding school by Watford to reduce his travelling. At 14, he left for Manchester. At 17 he moved to Germany.

    That career path confirms both Sancho's mental strength and his desire to succeed.

    A couple of years ago, he said his determination was being fuelled by the exploits of Kylian Mbappe and Marcus Rashford, 15 and 29 months older than him respectively. One has won a World Cup. The other is in line to win 50 England caps before he reaches 24. Ambition is evidently not an issue either.

    "If you are serious about football, you have to make sacrifices," he said recently.

    "You can't be afraid. You can't be the best if you don't take chances."

    Sancho, without setting out to be, has become a trailblazer for other promising English hopefuls who fear their talent may be blunted at home through lack of opportunity.

    He has never really got to grips with German but has adapted to the country admirably. He no longer has his parents around quite as frequently as he did when he initially moved from City and, despite his tender age, he is one of Dortmund's longest-serving players.

    He had control of the music in the dressing room. He helped Bellingham, in particular, settle in.

    Sancho has been disciplined at times, but those who have seen him do not believe him to be guilty of anything more than pushing boundaries, which is not exactly unusual in young men of his age. Punishments have been accepted graciously.

    Getting to wear the captain's armband for a few minutes against Augsburg in February was an incredibly proud moment.

    Without being sure whether they would meet Sancho again, at the end of last season, some Dortmund staff members thanked him for his contribution over the previous four years.

    Evidently, a bond exists between player and club that will probably always remain.

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    927 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • R

      Comment posted by rocking jock, at 13:13 1 Jul

      Hybrid of the modern age? What a stupid statement16313

      • R

        Reply posted by RiotZappa, at 15:36 1 Jul

        "Hybrid of the modern age? What a stupid statement"RiotZappa replied: hybrid – ‘a thing made by combining two different elements’

        modern age – ‘ the circumstances and ideas of the present age; “in modern times like these”‘

        What absolute nonsense indeed.

        If anybody wants to do ‘Talented trailblazer’, be my guest.

        People pay for this….664

      More replies (12)

    • G

      Comment posted by Gunner-Idiot, at 12:28 1 Jul

      Personally, and not because I’m not an Man U fan, I would have liked JS to stay put. I think more English players going abroad would be a good thing and improve the national team. That said, I am excited to see him first hand in the PL next year. Hope he has 36 good games and 2 terrible ones 😉(I know I posted this elsewhere earlier)8413

      • M

        Reply posted by MattyLeeT, at 12:57 1 Jul

        "Personally, and not because I’m not an Man U fan, I would have liked JS to stay put. I think more English players going abroad would be a good thing and improve the national team. That said, I am excited to see him first hand in the PL next year. Hope he has 36 good games and 2 terrible ones 😉(I know I posted this elsewhere earlier)"MattyLeeT replied: He had around 15 goals and assists for 2 seasons straight at Dortmund yet hasn’t had a sniff at the Euros. The Germans can’t believe we have him sat on the bench.

        Playing abroad has done nothing but hinder his opportunities at playing for England. A forward with that output playing in the top 6 of English football is almost a guaranteed starter.7711

      More replies (30)

    • S

      Comment posted by Specialist_in_tailoring, at 12:42 1 Jul

      How many times have we seen this by the British media?

      Build them up to knock them down!!595

      • F

        Reply posted by football, at 12:59 1 Jul

        "How many times have we seen this by the British media?Build them up to knock them down!!"football replied: Are they always playing Jenga?132

      More replies (4)

    • W

      Comment posted by William, at 14:13 1 Jul

      Jadon Sancho, mentioned in the same breath as Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Cristiano Roanaldo………..and wait for it…………….GEORGE BEST!!!! Hyperbole is not the word for it, do us a favour, rewrite this piece of the article589

      • S

        Reply posted by SLR, at 15:56 1 Jul

        "Jadon Sancho, mentioned in the same breath as Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Cristiano Roanaldo………..and wait for it…………….GEORGE BEST!!!! Hyperbole is not the word for it, do us a favour, rewrite this piece of the article"SLR replied: More like Daniel James. Quentin Fortune, Eric Jemba Jemba?3913

      More replies (8)

    • E

      Comment posted by Eternal Optimism, at 12:55 1 Jul

      Mr Stone is like a love struck puppy.444

      • M

        Reply posted by margaret, at 17:40 1 Jul

        "Mr Stone is like a love struck puppy."margaret replied: Sancho will hopefully earn the Glazer Family many more millions, their little money puppy !98

      More replies (1)

    • T

      Comment posted by The Cats Giblets, at 15:57 1 Jul

      How many more Simon Stone obsessed fanboy stories on this topic are we going to get404

      • U

        Reply posted by Unknown User, at 17:26 1 Jul

        "How many more Simon Stone obsessed fanboy stories on this topic are we going to get"Unknown User replied: How many more Simon Stone obsessed comments are we going to get?817

    • N

      Comment posted by nozin around, at 15:57 1 Jul

      The sycophantic mubbc love-in continues unabated.

      Shocking bias.426

      • S

        Reply posted by susie, at 21:09 1 Jul

        "The sycophantic mubbc love-in continues unabated.Shocking bias."susie replied: Well called. Always Man U bias here.80

    • R

      Comment posted by riskfan, at 12:29 1 Jul

      Good signing, now they need a quality and pacy partner for Maguire & a quality defensive midfielder who can dictate the play.4915

      • F

        Reply posted by football, at 12:54 1 Jul

        "Good signing, now they need a quality and pacy partner for Maguire & a quality defensive midfielder who can dictate the play."football replied: They just need that bit of extra quality – you have passed the co-commentator exam.654

      More replies (9)

    • T

      Comment posted by thelantern1212, at 12:26 1 Jul

      Obviously talented, but overpriced only because foreign clubs always take advantage of English teams having more money because of better TV deals throughout the whole PL. Had Bayern wanted him he would have gone there for about 35 million (and Euros at that).4211

      • C

        Reply posted by Cheggers, at 12:53 1 Jul

        "Obviously talented, but overpriced only because foreign clubs always take advantage of English teams having more money because of better TV deals throughout the whole PL. Had Bayern wanted him he would have gone there for about 35 million (and Euros at that)."Cheggers replied: Twitter/HYS experts are so fickle, Sancho kept up with Messi last few seasons with G+A but because he’s featuring in a defensively-minded England team – he’s overpriced. If he spends the next decade at Utd, im sure people will change their tune. Same critics were probably the ones chirping up last summer that a 40million Van De Beek was better value than Grealish.1515

      More replies (11)

    • 6

      Comment posted by 6060 842, at 18:43 1 Jul

      What will £73m Sancho bring?

      More banal column inches on the BBC Football website thats for sure.312

      • M

        Reply posted by MojoMan, at 19:20 1 Jul

        "What will £73m Sancho bring?More banal column inches on the BBC Football website thats for sure."MojoMan replied: And more comments from you, no doubt.37

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    • W

      Comment posted by wolf359, at 12:43 1 Jul

      UEFA must follow the example of the NFL in America and introduce a Salary cap.They must also as a matter of urgency introduce a cap on what clubs pay for players from other clubs.Some of the Transfer fees are larger than the Gross National Product of some 3rd World Countries!7244

      • F

        Reply posted by football, at 12:53 1 Jul

        "UEFA must follow the example of the NFL in America and introduce a Salary cap.They must also as a matter of urgency introduce a cap on what clubs pay for players from other clubs.Some of the Transfer fees are larger than the Gross National Product of some 3rd World Countries!"football replied: You mean no relegation like the NFL too? Super League here we come.3837

      More replies (39)

    • L

      Comment posted by LFC DES, at 15:37 1 Jul

      There’s no guarantee sancho will hit the ground running, he will be nowhere near salahs goal tally next season who plays in the same position. A decent signing, maybe, maybe not, as a rival fan I’m not bothered about sancho, I would be bothered if they bought a world class central defender, a world class CDM and a world class striker though, because that’s what they actually need.325

      • D

        Reply posted by Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC, at 17:51 1 Jul

        "There’s no guarantee sancho will hit the ground running, he will be nowhere near salahs goal tally next season who plays in the same position. A decent signing, maybe, maybe not, as a rival fan I’m not bothered about sancho, I would be bothered if they bought a world class central defender, a world class CDM and a world class striker though, because that’s what they actually need."Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC replied: Wise words. Totally agree.
        Man Utd better hope he has more success in the PL this season than Werner did last season, otherwise Utd fans will be mighty disappointed.94

      More replies (4)

    • T

      Comment posted by T on the wing, at 12:22 1 Jul

      Yes, he’s incredibly talented. We don’t need to be reminded every 5 minutes.

      Let’s hope the media obsession doesn’t cause him to flop like many other promising young English players.294

      • T

        Reply posted by The Spin Doctor, at 13:56 1 Jul

        "Yes, he’s incredibly talented. We don’t need to be reminded every 5 minutes.Let’s hope the media obsession doesn’t cause him to flop like many other promising young English players."The Spin Doctor replied: Time will tell if he can handle all the pressure and expectations placed on him by Man Utd, the fans and the media.130

      More replies (1)

    • T

      Comment posted by The Gorg, at 19:01 1 Jul

      Dortmund spent £32m on Sancho, Dembele, Aubameyang and Pulisic.

      They’ve made £309m. That’s how you run a football club251

      • O

        Reply posted by one year wonders, at 19:10 1 Jul

        "Dortmund spent £32m on Sancho, Dembele, Aubameyang and Pulisic.They’ve made £309m. That’s how you run a football club"one year wonders replied: Less the sell on fees paid to respective clubs. 👍43

      More replies (5)

    • S

      Comment posted by Stevie, at 16:06 1 Jul

      More Debt & disappointment246

      • Removed comment
    • T

      Comment posted by Time Barred Skeleton, at 16:45 1 Jul

      Bit of horse trading by the Glazers too placate the ‘green & gold’ match postponers.

      Easily fooled.181

      • W

        Reply posted by wchris1999, at 16:47 1 Jul

        "Bit of horse trading by the Glazers too placate the ‘green & gold’ match postponers.Easily fooled."wchris1999 replied: far from fooled,thats your words not true fans and if they won the title i still would never for give them56

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    • J

      Comment posted by Jeb, at 12:32 1 Jul

      United offered a deal worth up to £70m last summer and Dortmund said get lost, he’s worth £108m at least! Everyone laughed and said United were hopeless/clueless.

      12 months later and United get their man for almost the same amount.

      Who’s laughing now lads?6346

      • V

        Reply posted by VARIsTrash, at 12:35 1 Jul

        "United offered a deal worth up to £70m last summer and Dortmund said get lost, he’s worth £108m at least! Everyone laughed and said United were hopeless/clueless.12 months later and United get their man for almost the same amount.Who’s laughing now lads?"VARIsTrash replied: Shame its 70m down the drain5165

      More replies (34)

    • N

      Comment posted by Nixon Mclane, at 13:19 1 Jul

      Everyone rates Sancho. The press wax lyrical about how is the the first player under the age of 21 to score 25 goals in a Bundesliga club and has a ridiculous goals / assist to games ratio.

      Signs for United £28m cheaper than he was last year, he’s overrated…

      Classic ABU mentality.3216

      • S

        Reply posted by SammyValenteno, at 16:20 1 Jul

        "Everyone rates Sancho. The press wax lyrical about how is the the first player under the age of 21 to score 25 goals in a Bundesliga club and has a ridiculous goals / assist to games ratio.Signs for United £28m cheaper than he was last year, he’s overrated…Classic ABU mentality."SammyValenteno replied: 4 years in Dortmund and has “never got to grips with German”?
        He can’t be that talented, lol.1314

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    • M

      Comment posted by mikey, at 12:42 1 Jul

      Wow the haters starting early ….good deal for United well done4632

      • T

        Reply posted by The Spin Doctor, at 13:52 1 Jul

        "Wow the haters starting early ….good deal for United well done"The Spin Doctor replied: I’m sure you have said ‘good deal for United” many, many times in the past only to be proved wrong.
        How certain are you that you are correct this time?2616

      More replies (5)

    • S

      Comment posted by steve, at 17:53 1 Jul

      Makes me laugh. One minute protesting against the Glazers then the next congratulating a 73 million pound signing. Without the Glazers where would the money come from. Too many Man U fans biting the hand that feeds them and having more faces than the town hall clock.153

      • M

        Reply posted by mikey, at 17:55 1 Jul

        "Makes me laugh. One minute protesting against the Glazers then the next congratulating a 73 million pound signing. Without the Glazers where would the money come from. Too many Man U fans biting the hand that feeds them and having more faces than the town hall clock."mikey replied: You really have no clue do you616

      More replies (9)

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