WHEN Jadon Sancho signed for Man Utd in 2021, he appeared to be the final piece in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s jigsaw for a Premier League title bid.
GettyJadon Sancho finds himself at a career crossroads at Old Trafford[/caption]
A fallout with manager Erik ten Haag has marred his Man Utd careerGetty
It was that form that convinced the Red Devils to part with £73million for the coveted youngster.
But now, Sancho finds himself at a career crossroads with his career stalling.
A fallout with boss Erik ten Hag saw him release a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, claiming he has been made a “scapegoat” for United’s failings.
The Dutch tactician banished Sancho to a “personal training programme” away from the first team until the “squad discipline issue” was resolved.
The landscape for Sancho is not as clear as it was, when he was a promising talent growing up in South London.
Growing up in Kennington
Camberwell-born Sancho was raised on the Guinness Trust Buildings Estate in Kennington by Trinidadian parents.
It was at a nearby park he would hone his skills and meet Arsenal star Reiss Nelson, who became a childhood friend.
Jadon told Sky Sports: “I was on an estate.
“There’s a park behind that we called Blue Park, and we used to just go there and for two hours just play mini games, everyone used to get so into it.
“I used to have all the tricks, nutmeg people, and I was doing it like the older boys.
“They played properly so they didn’t want to hurt us younger boys. But they thought I was ready to play with them.
“I’d call myself a street footballer, that’s where I learned my tricks.”
Finding a mentor
Sancho’s early journey was steered by Sayce Holmes-Lewis, a former community coach for Southwark Council who worked with a talented pool of young footballers in the area.
Holmes-Lewis recalled how the then 12-year-old prodigy would show him up with his fancy footwork.
Sancho grew up on the Guinness Trust Buildings estate in South London
Reiss Nelson (second from the right) was pals with Sancho growing up
He told SunSport: “Jadon had this little afro, was always smiling. There was always banter between me and him.
“I’d say, ‘I bet you can’t do this skill’. I’d show him and by the end of the session he’d got it.
“It was embarrassing for me because I was almost 30 at the time, had worked on these skills all summer and it took him an hour to master!
“Jadon was always trying to prove how good he was but in a humble way.”
Sancho’s academy years saw him enjoy spells with Watford and Manchester City.
Alongside a standout ability, his ambition to reach the top stood out even then.
Louis Lancaster, who coached Sancho in Watford’s academy, said: “There’s a great phrase in football that goes, ‘Prepare the player for the pathway’ because it doesn’t change.
“Jadon scrapped that rule. For him, it was preparing the pathway for the player.
“He’s moved from South to North with one of the world’s greatest managers and players and he’s got a choice either stay in the Man City Under-23s and not develop or go to another country.
At Watford, Sancho showed he had bags of ability
Getty Images – GettySancho continued his youth development at Man City before leaving in 2017[/caption]
“How many players would have the courage to do that?”
Desperate to play, and realising his pathway to first team football was blocked, Sancho moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2017 from Man City for a £8million fee.
It was a pioneering and brave move for the teenager to make, and one that has been followed by many English footballers since.
And, it was the making of him. Sancho would go on to terrorise opposition defences, scoring 50 goals in 137 games.
A testament to his talents was his placing in the 2019 Golden Boy nominees.
The highlight of his time in Westfalenstadion came in his final season at the club – winning the DFB-Pokal cup.
AFPAt Borussia Dortmund Sancho became one of the world’s most feared wingers[/caption]
In his final season in Germany, Sancho won the DFB-Pokal cupGetty
It was Sancho’s form in the Bundesliga that saw the wideman capped by Gareth Southgate – making his debut in a 2018 Uefa Nations League fixture against Croatia.
His first competitive start in 2019 saw him put on a star display against Czech Republic in a 5-0 win in a Euro 2020 qualifier.
A brace in the 5-3 win over Kosovo appeared to cement his place in the first team line-up.
He was brought on in the Euro 2020 final against Italy in the 120th minute of extra-time to take a penalty.
Amazingly, he hasn’t added to his 23 England caps since 2021.
Sancho suffered penalty heartbreak in the Euro 2020 finalGetty
ReutersIncredibly, Sancho has not added to his 23 England caps since 2021[/caption]
That same month, Sancho’s club career appeared to take off – with a huge move to Man Utd sealed.
In-different form in his first season saw him score just five times in 38 games.
The following season, seven in 41 was nowhere near the prowess in front of goal he showed at Dortmund, where he managed double-figures in three of his four seasons.
A series of manager chances from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to Ralf Rangnick to Erik ten Hag has certainly not helped his chances.
The latter bringing in his former Ajax star Antony for £85million, a like-for-like player to Sancho, has hindered his progress.
While the emergence of Alejandro Garnacho shows the competition for places is high on the flanks at Old Trafford.
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A disagreement with ten Hag over his attitude in training saw him dropped from the club’s squad with Arsenal.
It was a statement Sancho rejected in a social media blast.
He wrote: “Please don’t believe everything you read! I will not allow people saying things that is completely untrue.
“I have conducted myself in training very well this week. I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t go into.
“I have been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair! All I want to do is play football with a smile on my face and contribute to my team.
Sancho’s Man Utd career has failed to hit the heights expectedGetty
GettyA feud with Erik ten Hag saw Sancho banished to training alone[/caption]
“I respect all decisions that are made by the coaching staff, I play with fantastic players… I will continue to fight for this badge no matter what!”
That courage he showed in his youth days is needed if he is going to get his career back on track.