Jadon Sancho looks set to return to Borussia Dortmund on a loan deal this window but it’s a deal which has only emerged very recently, according to a report by The Athletic.
The 23-year-old is understood to have reached a verbal agreement with the German club and official confirmation of the move is close.
Only a few weeks ago, however, Dortmund officials were dismissing the prospect of the winger returning to the Signal Iduna Park. “It won’t happen,” one asserted, categorically.
Raphael Honigstein (The Athletic) reveals the club’s dismal end to the year – which saw Dortmund fail to win a single game in December and fall to the fifth in the league – was a major factor which led to a rethink on Sancho.
A crucial pre-Christmas meeting was held amongst the executive branch to discuss the club’s form.
It was decided that Edin Terzic – the struggling Dortmund manager – would remain in place. He would be joined, however, by Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender as assistant coaches to “provide fresh ideas.”
They would also provide a suitable alternative should the club’s poor form under Terzic continue and temporary replacements be needed who the fans know.
Similarly, it was concluded the forward line – consisting of Donyell Malen (who has himself been linked with a switch to Old Trafford), Karim Adeyemi and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens – was not fit for purpose.
A lack of goals and, crucially, an inability to break teams down via “slower possession play” were deemed the primary issues holding back the team.
Too often this season Dortmund have been reliant upon counter-attacks to hurt teams. This dependence explains why Terzic’s side were able to top the ‘Group of Death’ in the Champions League, facing sides willing to take risks, but have struggled domestically against ‘smaller’ teams.
Which is where the idea of Sancho entered the fray.
The 23-year-old used to “excel” for Dortmund within the exact style of football the executive branch wish to see once again at the Signal Iduna Park. A “more dominant, controlled game plan,” Honigstein contends.
There were concerns, however, about Sancho’s current level; not his previous one. He has not played a minute of professional football in over four months and has been largely training alone, or with youth players, in this time.
Furthermore, the behavioural issues – which Dortmund were acutely aware of while he was in Germany – appear to have become worse since relocating to Manchester.
There is an undoubted risk associated with the prodigal son’s return off the pitch, despite his profile on the pitch being a perfect fit.
The fact the club have decided to continue with Terzic was a primary factor in assuaging these fears, however.
The Dortmund manager had previously been appointed the team’s caretaker manager in December 2020; the same time Sancho was still donning the black and yellow shirt.
Terzic instructed his staff to pay “special attention” to the winger, ensuring he was not late to meeting nor training, as well as spending as “much time as possible” in the presence of Erling Haaland – an attempt for the Norweigan’s professionalism to “rub off” on his English teammate.
The special treatment worked.
Sancho’s form drastically improved in the second half of the 2020/21 season (as did his team’s) and Dortmund finished the season with an emphatic 4-1 win over RB Leipzig in the DFB Pokal as well as Champions League qualification.
The winger’s performances were so effective United agreed to pay £74 million for his services that summer. Dortmund will be hoping a reunion of Terzic and Sancho can produce a similar uplift this time around again.
From United’s perspective, they are desperate to be rid of a player who is contributing nothing more than an embarrassing financial headache to the club.
The ongoing dispute with Ten Hag will not reach an amicable resolution and, given the Dutchman looks set to continue despite his side’s struggles, a short-term loan represents the simplest solution for both parties.
United’s desperation is Dortmund’s gain, however. Sources at the German club indicate there is “minimal risk” in the prospective loan deal with Honigstein revealing Sancho’s “heavily subsidised [loan] will only cost €3 million all-in until May.”
United appear willing to pay Sancho not to play for them at this point. If the winger can help his former team to another trophy success and Champions League qualification, it will prove an absolute bargain.