This weekend, Manchester United will take on Manchester City in the Premier League, with Jadon Sancho making a return to his previous club.
At Pep Guardiola’s press conference later today, there will be a fairly predictable line of questioning, and with good reason. Manchester United travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City in the Premier League this weekend, and they are well aware that their chances of causing another upset will be primarily reliant on the performance of Jadon Sancho.
Whenever Guardiola hears the expected namedrop, his eyes will most likely roll back into his cranial cavity. The well-documented story of Sancho, who was sold for £8million at the age of 17 after turning down a new deal at Manchester City, is an example of this.
He never played for City at the senior level during his time there, but he has since established himself as an England international and has developed into one of the best attacking players in Europe.
LITERACY: Jadon Sancho’s statements point to a problem for the next Manchester United manager.
“I’ve stated it many times, it’s not a regret,” Guardiola stressed ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund last year. “He makes the decision. The situation is quite positive for him. Thank you for your support. He is a truly excellent player.
“We wanted him to stay, but he made the decision to leave, and when people make the decision to leave, there is nothing we can do but let them go.” I wish him the greatest of luck, with the exception of when he plays against us. I have absolutely no regrets. “As long as he’s pleased, I’m happy.”
It is reasonable to assume that those statements will be repeated in some form during Friday’s media briefing. The City management team wanted to keep Sancho, but they were unable to provide the instant playing time guarantees that he desired. As far as I know, he rejected down United’s local competitors when he left in 2017 because of the same reason.
United were prepared to work on a deal beyond the transfer deadline because Guardiola had left Sancho out of the club’s pre-season tour squad in the summer of 2017. He joined Dortmund for a bargain £8million after turning down offers from both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. The player’s representatives wanted to complete a deal before the transfer window closed.
When asked if Sancho would have developed into a world-class player under his guidance, the City manager responded, “No one knows.” “Perhaps he stays and we don’t play well or at all.”
Based on Phil Foden’s success in England’s Premier League on the other side of the city, there is a compelling argument to imply that Sancho would have had an identical road to success in England, albeit one that was more gradual than his path to success in Germany. Given that City barely struggled without him, it is likewise incorrect to claim they were deprived of his abilities in the past.
Instead, the story to tell this weekend should be about a Manchester United transfer that is starting to bear fruit. When Dortmund refused to negotiate a transfer deal with them two years ago, they could have easily spent £108million for Sancho. In the long run, they saved £35 million by waiting one year to get an experienced winger.
In light of the fact that Sancho has looked revitalized under Ralf Rangnick and was perhaps the greatest player in the entire Premier League last month, he should be confident in his ability to deliver a much-needed victory when it matters the most on Sunday afternoon.