Where's next for England starlet Jadon Sancho?
It is set to dominate the transfer rumour mill and be the story on everyone’s lips this summer - Jadon Sancho’s potential return to England.
The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward, who left Manchester City in 2017 and has since gone on to become one of the most promising talents in world football, looks destined for a return to the Premier League ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
Having scored 30 goals and turned provider for a further 40 since arriving in Germany two-and-a-half years ago, Sancho has firmly left his mark on the Bundesliga.
This season alone, the teenager has yielded 16 goals and 17 assists in all competitions for Dortmund, further highlighting his expansive talents in one of Europe’s strongest leagues.
It is this type of form that has landed Sancho 11 senior England caps and more or less cemented his position in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the forthcoming European Championships this summer.
His current employers are now resigned to the fact that they will be losing their star man at the end of the season. Indeed, it is not all doom and gloom for the German outfit, as they are likely to receive over £100m in the way of a transfer fee for the former Manchester City wide man.
So, with it looking all but a certainty that Sancho will be plying his trade in the English top-flight next term, the question left is: Where will he go?
Manchester United have been heavily linked with Sancho in the past - with serious interest dating back to last summer and more recently throughout the January transfer window. However, with Dortmund’s reluctance to let their teenage superstar depart, no deal was struck between the two clubs.
It is understood that Dortmund will not be prepared to part ways with Sancho until after the European Championships, as they feel as though his value will significantly increase if he performs well for the Three Lions in the summer.
This is of course correct and a shrewd move taken by the Bundesliga club’s hierarchy; Sancho is already valued at £100m but that fee could rise to as much as £130m or perhaps even higher depending on how the rest of his season and subsequent summer pans out.
It is no secret that United have a huge amount of financial resources to hand, and could quite easily shell out over £100m on one player, alongside offering him a seemingly blank cheque book and a pen when it comes to discussing his weekly wage demands. Only Manchester City have such capabilities in the Premier League, and a return to the Etihad for Sancho does not seem likely at this moment in time, giving United a huge edge over their rivals.
The one thing that will prove to restrict United in their quest to land Sancho is the fact that their position in next season’s Champions League is still very much up in the air.
Currently, the Red Devils are six points off the top-four and cannot seem to nail down any consistency in the Premier League. They’re ninth at this moment in time and you would be hard pushed to find anyone - who is not a blindly loyal United supporter - defiantly backing them to achieve a top-four finish come the end of the campaign in May.
If United do fail to secure their spot in the 2020-21 Champions League, instead playing out another meaningless campaign in the Europa League - or not competing in Europe at all - then there is little chance of Sancho putting pen to paper at Old Trafford, understandably considering the options he will have presented to him in the summer.
If they achieve Champions League football, though, the situation suddenly becomes very different. Sancho will certainly view signing for Manchester United as a hugely attractive proposition and rightly so, despite their recent fortunes. Coupled with the obvious financial gains he will make in the north west, this transfer would suit all parties.
Odds to sign for Manchester United: 6/4
West London could be another destination for Sancho if he does return to England this summer. Chelsea have been frequently mentioned as the teenager’s potential new suitors, and on the face of it, could well prove to be an ideal move considering Frank Lampard’s reliance on young English talent.
The likes of Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James and Tammy Abraham have all flourished under the ex-Blues midfielder’s reign at Stamford Bridge this season, and Sancho fits the bill at the club perfectly: young, British and really, really good at football.
The teenager would slot into Chelsea’s starting line-up seamlessly, with his game tailor-made to the Blues’ style of play. The wide midfielders are the most important players in Chelsea’s favoured dynamic 4-2-3-1 formation, and with players like Pedro and Willian now at the back-end of their tenure in west London, it is perhaps time for a glistening new winger at Stamford Bridge.
After the signing of attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech - who will link up with the Blues in the summer after his £36m move from Ajax was confirmed last month - Chelsea look to have a frighteningly talented squad lined-up for next season. The addition of Sancho would only further reinforce that, too, and should he join the club, you feel as though Chelsea would quickly go from Champions League contenders to genuine title favourites.
Odds to sign for Chelsea: 5/1
Liverpool is an interesting proposition for Jadon Sancho and one that he will no doubt explore when the time comes in a few months. Indeed, adding a player of Sancho’s quality to their ranks can of course only be viewed as a positive for the Reds, but they are one of the few club’s in Europe that don’t actually need him.
With their ever-present front-three so consistently effective and seemingly always injury-free, you simply could not replace any one of them with the young Englishman, regardless of his talent. Even in reserve, Jurgen Klopp has Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to rely on - another player of immense quality - so where would Sancho slot in at Anfield if he did make the move to Merseyside?
Liverpool are also famously much more stringent in the transfer market and do not have the same financial capabilities as their Premier League counterparts. Sancho would cost north of £100m in today’s hugely inflated transfer market - it is hugely unlikely that the Reds would part with that sort of money for a player that they don’t really need.
Odds to sign for Liverpool: 5/2
Although Manchester City do not have a buy-back option for Sancho - somewhat of a peculiar decision taken by the club’s hierarchy when they sold him to Dortmund in 2017 - they do have first refusal on the 19-year-old.
The clause means that the teenage forward can't be sold on again without giving his previous employers the chance to complete a deal for the same price. However, it’s highly unlikely that Sancho will make a return to the Etihad next season.
Not only did he leave on slightly disgruntled terms having not been given a chance to prove his worth in the first-team, but City have now been banned from competing in Europe for the next two seasons - something that will undoubtedly prove to be a huge spanner in the works for the Sky Blues when it comes to attracting new, top-level signings throughout the upcoming two campaigns.
City are understood to have a 15% sell-on clause for Sancho, though, so will benefit from his sale this summer, wherever he ends up. Every cloud.
Odds to sign for Manchester City: N/A