Jadon Sancho: why England’s latest discovery may be best yet
The 18-year-old dazzled during his first England start against USA at Wembley
Wayne Rooney bade farewell to England at Wembley on Thursday night, but the old stager was outshone by England’s young generation of breakout talent, who produced another fine performance against the USA.
Star of the show was 18-year-old Jadon Sancho, who was making his full England debut and could prove to be yet another glittering talent for manager Gareth Southgate.
Eyebrows were raised when Sancho walked away from Manchester City in 2017 and joined Borussia Dortmund. But the move has paid off and Sancho has become one of the stars of the Bundesliga.
His displays in Germany this season, with five goals and eight assists, earned Sancho his call-up – and he became the first player from an overseas club to start for England since David Beckham in 2009.
Another option for Southgate
Sancho produced a “wonderful performance… full of bright movement,” says Henry Winter in The Times.
“Even on this early evidence, Sancho looks to possess the intelligence to thrive in international football and gives Gareth Southgate another option out wide.”
Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford may have some competition, Winter adds.
Style and substance
“There was no chance of Jadon Sancho freezing on his first start for England,” says Jacob Steinberg in The Guardian. “The Borussia Dortmund winger relished the opportunity to reach into his box of tricks.
“The 18-year-old showed that substance accompanies his stylish play when he released Trent Alexander-Arnold for England’s second goal. He delayed the final pass until the right moment, and that allowed the overlapping Alexander-Arnold to rip his shot past Brad Guzan. It is hard not to buy into the hype on this evidence.”
Sancho clearly wants to be involved, says The Times’s Tony Cascarino.
“It was hard to remember a pass that Sancho made that travelled more than 25 yards or so. It is an indication that he is a player who loves to be involved in intricate play… The way he linked up with the likes of Ben Chilwell and Dele Alli on the left-hand side was remarkable, given that they would only have had the chance to develop an understanding in training.”
Exciting and confident
Peter Smith of Sky Sports is also sold, saying: “His drag-backs, dummies and darts past his marker showed his confidence while his celebration with Jesse Lingard after England's opener was a sign of how quickly he has settled into the camp.
“England have a talented group of young players coming through - and Sancho may just be the most exciting of the lot.”
Pioneering a new path
Sancho demonstrated “the value of looking towards Europe as an avenue for opportunity and prosperity at a time when details of the Brexit deal which will see the United Kingdom leave the European Union emerge”, says Nizaar Kinsella on Goal.com.
“The Borussia Dortmund starlet is making Europe fashionable again for English footballers, and becoming a pioneer in taking a path that Gareth Southgate is encouraging for the next generation of Three Lions talent.”