Sancho to Barcelona? Dortmund's £100m man must first prove he can cut it in the Champions League

The ex-Manchester City forward has been growing in Germany, but only has one goal and two assists in 11 European games

At least once a week, Jadon Sancho is linked with a European super club, such is his status as one of the best teenagers in world football.

The 19-year-old England international looks destined for the very top of the game and thus is on many clubs’ most-wanted lists.

Despite his age, the Londoner has already played over 50 Bundesliga games and has 11 appearances for England’s senior side. He topped the NxGn list of the best teenagers in the world in March 2019, ahead of Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi.

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When his name comes up in a transfer rumour, the pricetag mentioned always puts him well above the €100 million (£85m/$110m) mark, which would place him in the list of the top 10 most-expensive players.

Part of the reason for the hype is his phenomenal season for Borussia Dortmund in 2018-19 where he finished with 12 league goals as well as a league-high 17 assists. Dortmund have no desire to sell their most valuable asset cheaply and believe they can get Ousmane Dembele-like money for the English teenager.

Dembele forced a move to Barcelona in 2017, but even with the French winger pushing for a transfer, Dortmund received €105m (£95m/$116m) from the Catalan giants.

BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke is not in any rush to see him go, but admits that it could be inevitable with Europe’s biggest teams constantly linked.

“With a player like Jadon, who is extraordinarily talented, you don’t have to pretend that you won’t talk to him if someone comes in for him,” Watzke told Sky Germany . 

“Maybe he’ll come and say that he would like to make a switch under certain conditions, and then we’ll talk to each other.

“I can’t guarantee that he will stay here forever. I can only say: We’ll be happy if no one comes in for him.”

Sancho has proven himself in the Bundesliga with Dortmund and was instrumental in their comeback from 3-0 down against Paderborn on Friday, scoring just after half-time before creating the stoppage-time equaliser with a beautifully-floated cross.

He looks to have put his early-season troubles behind him, when he first received an internal suspension for arriving back late from an international break. He was then taken off just 36 minutes into the 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich with head coach Lucien Favre insisting it was for performance reasons rather than fitness: “Sancho was not hurt.”

Despite his Bundesliga dominance, four goals and seven assists in 10 games in 2019-20 already, he still has yet to really prove himself in the Champions League.

This could be the big stumbling block for any club looking to sign him, as any £100m+ player needs to be able to repeatedly contribute in Europe. Barcelona were stung once by Dembele from Dortmund and would not make the same mistake again.

Sancho will play at Camp Nou for the first time on Wednesday in what could be an audition for his future club. Barcelona are one of the teams regularly linked with him and need to see that he is capable of playing at the very highest level.

He has not produced the same sort of performances in Europe as he has in Germany, providing just two assists and one goal in 11 Champions League appearances.

In the reverse fixture at the Westfalenstadion, Sancho won a penalty but was ultimately remembered for wasting a great chance to give his side the lead and could not find a team-mate with any crossing attempt.

His only Champions League goal to date was a stat-padding strike after he came off the bench in the 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid.

Asked about the next step in his career earlier this year, he said he was not focused on the transfer talk and simply wants to do everything he can for his current club.

“I can’t tell the future,” Sancho told  Viasport . “I just take it game by game. I just wanna give 100 per cent for Borussia Dortmund.”

Team-mate Mats Hummels thinks he has everything to make it to the very top of the game, but needs to mature to move up another level.

“I could imagine him in just about any team in the world,” Hummels told Sport Bild.

“Although he’s not mature yet, Jadon is already an outstanding footballer: His one-on-one, the pace. He loves to prepare goals. He is an absolute weapon that even has potential for improvement.”

Wednesday’s game in Barcelona should see him play from the start, providing the perfect opportunity to prove he can step up from the Bundesliga to the Champions League – maybe impressing his future employers in the process.