KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Jadon Sancho’s match-winning performance for England against Kosovo in the Euro 2020 qualifiers may have hastened the days when, firstly, he replaces Marcus Rashford in his country’s starting line-up and then, secondly, joins Rashford in Manchester United’s attack.
The Borussia Dortmund winger seized impressively the opportunities handed him by England manager Gareth Southgate in the past week. The 19-year-old made a bright appearance as a substitute in the Wembley win over Bulgaria then scored twice in the roller-coaster 5-3 defeat of the Kosovars in Southampton.
Sancho, aged 19 years 169 days, was the youngest player to score more than once in a game for England since Wayne Rooney against Croatia in 2004. This was his eighth senior international and his third start. He was eventually substituted, significantly, by Rashford.
Southgate explained his choices by saying: “Jadon Sancho came in to freshen up the team. His one-on-one ability to beat players his decision-making is excellent. His number of goals and assists at Dortmund speak for themselves.”
At the age of 13 Sancho had told Watford’s academy director of his ambition “to play for one of Europe’s top clubs and represent my country to make my family proud.”
He has achieved all of this already. With England he offers width on the wings which they lacked, notably, in the first half against Bulgaria now that Raheem Sterling prefers playing closer to Harry Kane and, thus, closer to goal. That development places Rashford under pressure because he, too, is at his best in the centre of attack rather than on the wing.
Sancho’s courage in quitting Manchester City to find fame and better opportunity at Dortmund has been amply rewarded. He is a major player on the European stage already while Phil Foden, a team-mate in the squad who won the U-17 World Cup two years ago, is still only an occasional substitute back at City.
Inevitably, the Premier League’s giants are circling Sancho and Dortmund. Manchester United are the favourites to bring him back to English football sooner or later. With his every game Dortmund’s eventual profit margin continues to rise.