Jadon Sancho heaped praise on his Borussia Dortmund team-mates after a 6-0 friendly win – his first appearance since a move to Manchester United stalled.
The England international – who is valued by his club at £108m – flew out to Switzerland with his Dortmund team-mates for a pre-season training camp after Monday’s apparent deadline for a deal to be done passed.
Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc at that point appeared to rule out a potential transfer, telling reporters: “We plan on having Jadon Sancho in our team this season, the decision is final. I think that answers all our questions.”
Sancho was subsequently named in the starting line-up – alongside English debutant, 17-year-old Jude Bellingham, who recently arrived from Birmingham – for Tuesday’s warm-up game against Austrian side SCR Altach, which Dortmund won 6-0.
Bellingham was involved in the opening goal as he intercepted a pass and combined with Erling Haaland to set up Giovanni Reyna for a simple finish.
Haaland then scored twice himself before the interval – his first from the penalty spot before Bellingham set up his second with a superb backheel.
Sancho and Bellingham were both withdrawn at the break as part of wholesale changes by head coach Lucien Favre.
Speaking afterwards, Sancho said: “I love playing with this lot. This is a special bunch and we have some special young players coming up.
“I am really happy to be sharing the same pitch with them and guide them, because I was in their shoes and I know how it is for them.”
When asked about whether he feels he is a leader already for the younger members of the squad, Sancho added: “Yeah, obviously I joined when I was 17 years old and some of these lads are 16, 17 years old.
“I’ve been there and done that. I’m just trying to guide them, what’s good and what’s not good, and hopefully motivate them as well.”
After the interval, Axel Witsel and Julian Brandt both struck the post before Thorgan Hazard won and converted another spot-kick with 15 minutes remaining.
The Bundesliga team added a fifth with four minutes left as Thomas Meunier set up Emre Can and there was still time for Brandt to cap a fine first pre-season outing with a sixth in stoppage time.
Speaking afterwards, Bellingham said: “I loved every minute of it. It was great to familiarise myself with the boys and finally have some competition in black and yellow. I’m buzzing and obviously we got some goals so I really enjoyed it.
“I’m confident in my own ability but the boys, they made it easy for me. They were outstanding at times and played some really good stuff even though it was our first game back.
“I’m really happy to be part of this team. Soon as I can get into that groove of making goals, making chances, making tackles, doing everything right, then I can be more confident when the season comes around and hopefully I can contribute then as well, but for now I am just trying to get to the level I need to.”Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth says United are growing increasingly frustrated by the pace of negotiations.
“As far as Borussia Dortmund are concerned he is going nowhere,” he told Sky Sports. “Their sporting director Michael Zorc said earlier this week that they’re planning on having Sancho next season and that decision was final.
“They set their deadline of the Monday just gone for Man United to pay up the €120m but we know that didn’t materialise and Sancho is now in a pre-season training camp with his Dortmund team-mates.
“There is a degree of frustration with United. There is a feeling player wages and agents fees are an obstacle. Furthermore, there is a frustration at the pace of negotiations given Dortmund’s insistence that United deal with an intermediary when it comes to discussing this deal. Against the backdrop of all of that, the information I’m getting is that there is a sense of bemusement in the Sancho camp.
“They say making Sancho the highest paid player, breaking Manchester United’s wage structure – that was never ever on the agenda. It flies against what United are saying with regards to agents fees and personal terms.
“Here we have a situation where Dortmund have made their price very clear: €120m, you get Jadon Sancho. United are turning round and saying, ‘we don’t believe that is a realistic price during this pandemic. We think it’s too expensive at this moment’, but they’re not actually saying they are willing to pay. Until that happens, you can’t see this moving very quickly.”
Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol gives the lowdown from all angles on Sancho’s prospective move to Manchester United.
View from Man Utd: ‘Sancho is still United’s No 1 target this summer and as far as they are concerned the window is open for almost another two months.
‘There is no need for United to press the panic button. As far as they are aware they are the only club who are trying to sign Sancho and he wants to move to Old Trafford.
‘United insist they will not pay over the odds even though Sancho is not believed to be asking for higher wages than other players with a similar profile.
‘United have let it be known that they will not pay Dortmund’s €120m (£108m) asking price but they are going to have to get close to it if they really want Sancho.
View from Dortmund: ‘Michael Zorc made it clear Sancho would be staying at Dortmund and the decision was final. The big question is should we take what he said at face value or is it simply a negotiating tactic?’
‘Dortmund’s business model is based on developing players and selling them for big transfer fees. They have bought Haaland and Jude Bellingham this year and their finances have been hit by the pandemic, so they would find it difficult to turn down a big offer for Sancho.
‘As far as they are concerned, they can hold onto Sancho for another season and wait until next summer to sell him. By then, club finances may have improved and the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona would be in a better position to make moves for Sancho and drive his price up.’
View from Sancho: ‘It is no secret Sancho would like to come back to the Premier League. He feels he has unfinished business in England because he did not get the chance to prove himself at Manchester City.
‘Sancho has friends at United and now is the perfect time for him to come home. He wanted to move to a club who were in the Champions League and United finishing third last month was another box ticked for Sancho.’