Man Utd must deliver the Champions League to beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham
Jadan Sancho is by far the valuable teenager in world football, a £120million price tag put on his dazzling skill last week by Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old has also become the most influential young player on the planet, the success of his move to Germany a profound inspiration to others of his generation.
Formidable teenage striker Erling Haaland followed Sancho on the path to Dortmund earlier this season, rejecting offers from a host of major European clubs.
Now, another stellar English talent, Jude Bellingham, playing this season as a 16-year-old in midfielder for Birmingham City in the Championship, is on the verge of finalising a summer move to Dortmund.
Every big club has been watching Bellingham, among them Manchester United, who lost out on Haaland at the last moment.
Why is the kid close to a £30million switch to Germany? One reason only – the Sancho effect.
They see the opportunity he has been given to play regular high-level football as a youngster, and the dramatic impetus it has given to his career.
The contrast with Phil Foden, his fellow prodigy as a junior at Manchester City, is obvious to all.
Transfer news LIVE: Latest news and gossip as Jadon Sancho hints at move
England U21 ace Dominic Solanke explains it eloquently, saying: “His success has affected everyone. When one young player sees another young player doing that, they think they can do it as well.
“Sancho is doing well in Germany and a lot of players would like to follow his path. What he’s done, getting into the England team at such a young age, it will influence a lot of players.”
The fee for Belllingham is reported to have been arranged at £30million, which would be an all-time club record for Dortmund.
If he has the same upward curve in his career as Sancho, it will earn a much bigger fortune in future for the Bundesliga club.
It cost them just £8million to acquire Sancho in the summer of 2017. Today, according to the independent and highly respected Transfermarkt rankings, the 19-year-old winger’s true worth is a cool £108million.
That puts him in ninth place among all footballers. For more context, it also means Sancho is the only teenager among the top 65 in the world: Haaland is at No.66.
Dortmund want even more if they sell in the summer, a minimum fee of £120million. But they would rather keep him.
“For us it would be best of he stays,” said chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke last week. “We have enough money. We want to have titles.
“It is not clear what will happen, but I think this team has a lot more potential with Jadon than without Jadon.”
Compelling stats reveal that. Sancho has 14 goals and 15 assists in just 22 Bundesliga matches this season. Only two players have scored more; nobody has created as many goals for others.
The stats are secondary to the composure in front of goal, the magical tricks to glide past an opposition defenders, the poetry of his movement, the eye for the killer pass inside the penalty area.
It was memorably written of Jimmy Greaves that “when he scored a goal it was like someone closing the door of a Rolls Royce” — the ball guided into the net with elegant and perfect precision, a gentle swoosh of a shot.
There is a similar feeling about Sancho when he receives the ball in the box; he has an other-worldly calmness amid the hectic action as he delays an extra moment before a side-foot swoosh to beat the goalkeeper.
And he is still only 19-years-old, at least for a couple more weeks.
What does the future hold for Sancho? Many headlines in the past week have signalled a likely £100million transfer bid by Manchester United in the summer window.
Of course they will make an offer; it’s only to be expected, and so they should. But don’t pay too much credence to the idea that United are fast emerging as favourites to sign the player.
The kid is among the best in the world. He will want to play Champions League football next season. United must deliver that to have a chance of getting him.
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