Berlin (AFP) – An Englishman is making waves in the Bundesliga with teen star Jadon Sancho, 17, showing off the skills at Borussia Dortmund which Pep Guardiola watched slip away.
With their top-scoring striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sidelined as he chases a move to Arsenal, England Under-19 winger Sancho has been dazzling for Dortmund.
After he suddenly quit Manchester City last August, a move which shocked the club’s head coach Guardiola, Sancho broke into Dortmund’s first team a fortnight ago.
In order to move to Germany, Sancho reportedly rejected a £30,000 (34,281 euros, $42,834) a week offer from City.
It left Guardiola claiming the Manchester giants could not have done more to keep Sancho, who cost Dortmund around eight million euros.
Sancho, who turns 18 in March, started his first Bundesliga match a fortnight ago in a goalless draw at home to Wolfsburg and hit the post in the second-half.
The left winger played a key role in Dortmund’s 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin last Friday.
After Hertha scored early in the second-half, it was Sancho’s cross which led to Shinji Kagawa’s equaliser for Dortmund.
Sancho then linked up with Alexander Isak, 18, causing havoc down the left flank after the Swedish striker came off the bench.
Sancho fired just over the bar while Isak clipped the woodwork.
The teenagers are poised to link up again this Saturday when resurgent Freiburg — who are on a seven-match unbeaten run — visit Dortmund.
“He’s a very good player, very talented, he’s still very young, but I think we will have a lot of fun with him in the future,” Dortmund head coach Peter Stoeger said of Sancho on Thursday.
The Englishman’s talents are nothing new for Stoeger.
The Austrian had already tried to bring him to bottom side Cologne before the club fired Stoeger in December. A week later he replaced Peter Bosz at Dortmund.
Sancho originally seemed to be a long-term investment for Dortmund when he arrived last August.
– Happy place –
He inherited Ousmane Dembele’s No 7 shirt, but spent the first-half of the season mostly with Dortmund’s U-19 squad in the UEFA Youth League.
However, after Stoeger took charge, Sancho started in a friendly win against Fortuna Duesseldorf earlier this month in Marbella.
He has not looked back since the Spanish training camp.
“I’m in a happy place at the moment,” Sancho told Bundesliga.com after starting against Wolfsburg.
“I am just thankful the manager has faith in me and his team, that’s a big thing for me, because I need to improve as a player.
“To do that, I need to play games like this, so I am very happy.”
Dortmund are taking great pains to protect their protégé and turn down media interview requests.
It has been more than a decade since a British player last made an impact in the Bundesliga.
Owen Hargreaves, who had been brought up in Canada but went on to play for England, was 19 when he helped Bayern Munich win the 2001 Champions League final.
Scotland’s Paul Lambert won the Champions League with Dortmund in 1997.
England star Kevin Keegan led Hamburg to the German league title in 1978/79, scoring 17 goals, then helped them reach the European Cup final in 1979/80.