Jadon Sancho’s arrival at Manchester United is the biggest and most important piece of transfer business facilitated by the club since Wayne Rooney’s Old Trafford move in 2004.
Pretty bold statement to make that, isn’t it?
Particularly when you consider that during that period United have paid out of this world money to re-sign Paul Pogba, nurtured and developed David de Gea for a decade into, at one point in time, the best goalkeeper in the world, and signed the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Robin van Persie, Dimitar Berbatov and many others to win countless Premier League titles – all en route to spending £1.4bn in collective transfer fees.
But for all intents and purposes, Sancho is more of a marquee signing than any of those great players, simply because he’s a top quality signing ready to lead United forward not only now, but for the next decade and some.
Young, fearless and exciting to watch, the 21-year-old is a player whose potential you dare not put a ceiling on. You could convincingly argue that Sancho would have been plugged more in the media as a ‘generational’ talent, had he not upped sticks from Manchester City at the age of 17 in order to pursue a more direct path to first team football in Germany.
Fortunately for Sancho, and now for United, he did.
Now with three full seasons under his belt at Dortmund, he’s conceivably one of the best wingers in the world – irrespective of whether or not he fits into Gareth Southgate’s England plans at Euro 2020. Sancho has been able to shine away from the scrutiny and pressure of playing in front of the English media while in the Bundesliga, quietly honing his craft in a league renowned for educating and developing young players.
Not only has Sancho developed, he’s shown incredible consistency in one of Europe’s big five leagues, and if anything his accomplishments have been vastly understated because of Bayern’s continued supremacy in Germany. In reality, his contribution for BVB has been nothing short of remarkable.
92 Bundesliga games in that time, 37 goals scored and 41 assists contributed. Incredible statistics. You can only imagine the hype if Sancho had done that in the famed Premier League.
But it’s not just the numbers that make Sancho’s rise so impressive. He’s adapted to a different culture, learnt a new language and progressively improved as a footballer on both wings. He regularly produces an end product, makes smart decisions on the ball, mixes up his play by cutting inside or getting to the byline, and regularly has been the player to stand up and be counted for Dortmund in times of adversity.
Yet despite all of that, he’s remained relatively under the radar for most. Out of sight, out of mind, you could say.
United, though, have had their eyes firmly set on Sancho for the best part of two years. Like they did with Rooney in the early 2000s, the Red Devils have been stalking their pray, eyeing Sancho from afar before waiting for the perfect time to pounce and get the right deal done. Admittedly, United were largely in control of their pursuit of Rooney – whereas Dortmund have been far more stoic in their desire to get full value out of a transfer – and the circumstances of Sancho’s arrival are entirely different.
Many cynics have been hugely critical of United’s apparent unwillingness to meet Dortmund’s terms, citing a lack of appetite to compete with the best clubs in the world. But ultimately their patience has paid off, and by waiting an additional 12 months, around £30m has been lopped off Sancho’s price – a figure that now likely correlates to the outlay for Rooney when inflation and the overall increase in footballing finances is taken into account.
That’s one hell of a deal for United.
Sancho will sign a five-year contract to begin with, but unless something goes terribly wrong – a serious injury or a dramatic decline that is impossible to envision right now – he’s going to be a United player for at least the next decade.
In that time, United will build around him, Pogba (if he stays as expected), Fernandes, and the supremely talented Mason Greenwood – while there’s even talk of World Cup winner Raphael Varane following Sancho to Old Trafford this summer. That’s a quality quintet of players who will help United attract the very best players in the world in future windows, solving some of the major problem areas in their current squad.
The Red Devils have never really lost their appeal, but in signing Sancho, you can be confident that further silverware on the mantelpiece is likely not far away. He’s a complete contrast in style to Rooney, and will offer United something completely different – but the similarity, or point of reference for want of a better phrase, could be that he’s the catalyst for another changing of the guard in English football.
Whatever happens, sit back and enjoy watching Sancho – United‘s most important signing for approaching two decades.