The success story of Jadon Sancho 

In the summer of 2021, Borussia Dortmund agreed to sell Jadon Sancho to Manchester United for a fee reported to be within the region of €85 million. After emerging as one of Europe’s most exciting prospects during his time at the Westfalenstadion, there was a sense that the Premier League outfit had just secured the signing of the summer.

However, in England, Sancho failed to replicate the type of consistency that had made him so beloved by the Dortmund faithful and so sought after by Europe’s most elite clubs. During his time at Old Trafford, the Englishman recorded just twelve goals and six assists in 82 appearances, leaving many fans questioning what had happened to their once-star signing.

However, as his form continued to dip, his relationship with Erik ten Hag collapsed, leaving him ostracised from the United squad. A move in January 2024 appeared to be the only possible solution for both parties; however, as to who would be willing to take a chance on Sancho, remained a lingering mystery.

Nevertheless, despite interest from Saudi Arabia, Dortmund saw an opportunity to lure back their once-star player and make him believe in himself once again. Believe in himself; he has.

The magical return

Upon Sancho’s return, the 24-year-old registered two assists in as many appearances, suggesting that it was in fact those at Manchester United who were not believing in his ability rather than the other way around.

Regardless, a run of games followed that saw Sancho’s output dry up, leaving few to question whether his return would in fact be as successful as first thought. As well as this, with fellow Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens attempting to break into the Dortmund side alongside Youssoufa Moukoko, there was a sense that Sancho was stealing game time from BvB’s hottest young prospects.

As Dortmund’s season continued to falter domestically, a feeling as though Dortmund should have persevered with their own talented crop began to emerge. However, while in the Bundesliga Die Schwarzgelben were far from perfect, in Europe, an underdog story threatened to emerge.

Having overcome PSV Eindhoven in the round of 16 stage, Sancho’s importance in the Champions League became clear. Next came Atlético Madrid, and while Sancho was not at the centre of everything positive for BvB, his ability was still required.

As the hurdle of Diego Simeone was cleared, the semi-finals awaited, and lurking in the distance were the French champions, Paris Saint-Germain. In the first leg, Sancho became the best player in the world for 90 minutes, offering Nuno Mendes the most terrifying experience of his professional career.

A 1-0 win at the Westfalenstadion was secured, and while Sancho failed to register a goal or an assist, his performance was otherworldly. As the second leg approached, Sancho scored a wonder goal against RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga as he prepared to help guide BvB back to Wembley.

On Tuesday, May 7, history was made. Another 1-0 win over PSG ensured that Borussia Dortmund would play in their third Champions League final, having secured a 2-0 aggregate victory.

While this time it would be BvB’s backline earning all the plaudits, Sancho remained a constant threat until his substitution halfway through the second half. Regardless, with seven recoveries and four duels won, as per Fotmob, his commitment and contribution could not be questioned.

As Dortmund become the first team to secure their place in the Champions League final, they can look back at their January transfer window and know that without re-signing Sancho, this remarkable story would not have been possible. 

As for the Englishman, in the space of six months, he has gone from being ostracised and forgotten about at a club struggling to qualify for Europe to being 90 minutes away from being crowned a European champion. Simply phenomenal. 

GGFN | Will Shopland

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