What’s this? A scout report, from me, on a Sunday. Don’t ever say I don’t treat you!
The subject of today’s scout report is a player causing a tug of war in North London as both Arsenal and Tottenham try to the land one of, if not the brightest prospect in English football today.
His name? Jadon Sancho. Although you may not have heard of the youngster, you soon will.
Sancho is a 17-year-old winger currently on the books at Manchester City having joined from Watford in 2015 but, he is ready to leave The Etihad in order to develop his career.
Despite being offered a new £30,000-a-week contract – an outrageous figure for a player who is yet to make a first-team appearance – the youngster has turned down the offer because of fears his game time will be drastically affected by those higher up the pecking order.
This is completely understandable, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne in front him, with City having the financial power to sign whoever they please if they need to cover or replace them. City are also not a club renowned for promoting youth, with the likes of Patrick Roberts and Kelechi Ihenacho – both talented young stars – struggling to force their way into the team.
Sancho also has an apparent desire to return to London, leaving Arsenal and Tottenham with a realistic chance of signing a player who has been described as ‘the jewel in the Manchester City Academy crown.’
However, by looking at the 17-year-olds Twitter page, it would appear that The Gunners are already at a huge advantage in the race for Sancho’s signature. In his Twitter profile picture, he stands alongside Arsenal starlet Reiss Nelson at The Emirates following a youth game between Arsenal and City last season, while also tweeting numerous times about his compatriot following Nelson’s wonderful pre-seasons performances for Arsene Wenger’s side.
So happy for my brother to receive Man of the match on his Debut 🙏🏼 You deserve it bro ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cotGR2L24l
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) July 13, 2017
Let’s hope Nelson can convince Sancho to join him in North London because Arsenal would be getting their hands on a supremely talented attacker.
Operating mostly as a left-winger – while also capable of playing on the right – Sancho played for both the Manchester City under 18’s and under 23’s last season.
Across 35 appearances in five separate competitions, the 17-year-old scored 20 goals and picked up eight assists, a brilliant return for a wide player, especially one of his tender years.
He has also made his mark at international level. Sancho played just seven games for the England under 16’s, scoring six times before moving up the under 17’s set up. 16 games at that level have produced 13 goals, with his most impressive performances in a Three Lions shirt coming this summer. The winger was selected as part of the squad for the UEFA European Under-17 Championships in Croatia and he played all six games as England lost on penalties to Spain in the final.
A hugely impressive five goals and five assists saw him pick up the golden player award for the tournaments best player, an award previously won by the likes of Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas, and Wayne Rooney all the way back in 2002.
— UEFA.com (@UEFAcom) May 17, 2017
The stats clearly demonstrate that Sancho is a talented player with a very bright future ahead of him but, what is he like to watch?
The 17-year-old is incredibly skillful and is a defender’s worst nightmare. With some of the quickest feet I think I’ve ever seen, Sancho makes beating a player look easy, with nutmegs and ball rolls a trademark of his game. He is also lightning fast and leaves most defenders in the dust, while he is also able to move through the gears quickly, going from a standing start to top speed in the blink of an eye.
His ability to combine his skill and pace all at once is frightening, running at frantically backpedalling defenders before making the ball disappear past them as they look to tackle him, often leaving them spinning in confusion or flat on the ground.
Sancho knows how good he is with the ball at his feet and creates most of his chances this way. But, as is often the case with young players, he holds onto it for too long on occasion, running into a dead end or slowing down the attack.
As his stats show, he is a composed finisher. Some young players impress with their eye for the sublime, but this is not the case with the Englishman. Most of his goals come inside the penalty area when one-on-one with the ‘keeper or when faced up by a defender.
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) May 10, 2017
However, when he does play a pass – especially in the final third – it is often one of real quality. Young players who are quick, tricky and good on the ball that light up YouTube highlight reels but never an actual game (search Hachim Mastour and you’ll see what I mean) often lack end product but, Sancho goals and assists prove otherwise.
Being right footed but playing mostly on the left means the 17-year-old likes to cut inside in a Robert Pires-espue fashion, to great effect. Drifting inside and then quickly reversing a through ball to either the overlapping full-back or striker on the last man has become a hallmark of his game, while he is an accurate crosser and deadly finisher.
Due to the talent he possesses on the ball, it drags numerous players out of position as they look to tackle him, leaving plenty of space for other attacking players. This, coupled with his passing ability, allows him to create a lot of chances for others.
Sancho’s love of cutting in on his right also allows him to surprise defenders and use his pace to go down the outside, reaching the byline before wriggling his way into the box to cause panic in the opposition ranks. Exhibit A is below.
A quite brilliant assist by Jadon Sancho! 👀😱 pic.twitter.com/J3LQClfWCh
— Yahoo Sport UK (@YahooSportUK) May 4, 2017
Despite only standing at 5ft 8in tall, he is a strong player who can easily hold his own and muscle off defenders that try and use their physicality to stop him.
His link up play is also good and he is a willing runner, allow his movement when at the far post could do with some improvement.
Despite the few negatives, they are far outweighed by the positives. At just 17, he is far from the finished article but, the early signs are very, very promising. If Arsenal do secure his services they will likely have to pay Manchester City around £4 million in compensation but that is a small gamble for the players he could one day become.
I think he would be a superb signing for Arsenal and would add the promising young English core already at the club that offers a bright future for The Gunners, include the previously mentioned Nelson as well as Joe Willock and Rob Holding, among others. It appears to be a deal that could be done, so let’s hope it does.
Jadon Sancho, remember the name.