| 12.7°C Dublin

done deal The rise of Jadon Sancho may be unstoppable as he prepares for Man United switch

Close

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho are set to become team-mates at Manchester United (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho are set to become team-mates at Manchester United (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho are set to become team-mates at Manchester United (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Jadon Sancho will make at least £60m over the next five years of the contract he will sign with Manchester United.

The chances are he will earn more, for if he becomes the success Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes he will be, you can add another huge chunk of cash to the £250,000 a week he will start on.

No doubt such mind-boggling numbers were one reason he pushed so hard to return to Manchester and the red half, having left City for Borussia Dortmund for £10m four years ago.

Yet what truly drives him is his love for football and playing, week-in, week-out. And age, for him, has never come into it.

Now, having been at a German club that always gives youth a chance, he is joining one that built its reputation on the Busby Babes and always believes that if you are good enough then you are old enough.

Of course Sancho, even at the tender age of 21, arrives as a £73m winger with bundles of Bundesliga experience.

He made 137 appearances for Dortmund and scored 50 goals and going into last night's clash with Ukraine he already had 20 England caps.

So he is not a babe or a Fergie Fledgling. He is experienced beyond his years.

Yet he already knows what boss Solskjaer knows - young players, even those honed in one of Europe's most competitive leagues - can have ups and downs.

For all his abilities as a winger who can fly past defenders, he will not reach maturity for another five years.

But he went to Dortmund because he knew he would be played.

He is joining United because Solskjaer insists that kids are alright no matter that there will be inconsistencies as they grow.

United, in fact, could not be a better place for him just as Dortmund was back in 2017.

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

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Sancho's camp felt the teenager was capable of more than what 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 was 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.

Although 12th in the list of the world's richest clubs they are still, financially, a long way behind rivals Bayern Munich.

Attracting youth is a way of bridging the gap. When they pitch to youngsters, they show off their team-sheet.

Last season that included Sancho, Erling Braut Haaland (20), Jude Bellingham, who was then aged 17, and Gio Reyna, 18.

Sancho is forthright why he left for Dortmund saying: "It is obvious:

"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.

There was also the attraction of him being in a city where, off the park, he could chill out.

He has never been comfortable dealing with the media or being in the glare of the spotlight when out and about.

Popular

The attacker, who began his career at Watford, was very popular with his team-mates.

Images of him dancing on the table and leading the celebrations after their German Cup final victory show a young man happy in his surroundings.

Sancho scored twice in the 4-1 hammering of RB Leipzig that brought the trophy, so he had every reason to be pleased.

Yet those scenes largely went unnoticed in England and that suited him just fine.

He said: "Dortmund is very quiet, London is busier. Dortmund is very chilled, and I like this because I can relax."

That will not be the case now that he's signing for the most famous club in the world.

His every move will be charted, photographed, commented upon, and if he is struggling with his form, the animals who inhabit social media will try to eat him alive.

So getting used to a whole different cultural climate, as United's fourth most expensive signing, offers a huge challenge.

What will be going for him, however, is his natural love of kicking a ball around.

He was 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 London's Kennington.

As a seven year old he would turn up at local tournaments hoping one of the teams was short so he could get a game.

"The street football will never leave me," he stresses, "What I learned from street football is what I have always been doing. Football is about having fun."

Yet he has also worked hard and committed his life to the game.

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.

His determination, as he grew older he says, was 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 reached the age of 24.

He insists: "If you are serious about football, you have to make sacrifices You can't be afraid. You can't be the best if you don't take chances."

He will wear United's iconic No 7 shirt - either this season if Edinson Cavani is willing to give it up, or next year when the veteran Uruguayan heads back to South America.

The moment Sancho has waited for throughout most of his life has arrived.

If he shows the same guts and conviction that he displayed in getting there then, even allowing for the entrance of Bruno Fernandes, he may well prove to be the most significant signing of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign as manager.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy