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Free Sancho: Why Southgate must unleash Man Utd target at Euro 2020

3:00 AM EDT 6/22/21
Jadon Sancho Borussia Dortmund England GFX
The winger could become the most expensive English player ever this summer, but is yet to make an appearance at the tournament for the Three Lions

Jadon Sancho will, in all likelihood, become the most expensive English player of all time when his long-protracted move to Manchester United is eventually official.

United have already made an offer of £67 million ($95m) for the Borussia Dortmund winger,  and are expected to reach an agreement with the Bundesliga club for a higher fee after missing out on Sancho's signature last summer.

Dortmund are looking for around £82m ($113m) for Sancho, and will likely stand firm on their asking price, much like they did in 2020 when they refused to sell for any lower than their valuation of closer to £100m ($125m).

Such a fee would move Sancho above Harry Maguire in the most expensive transfers of all time list, breaking the record for an English player set by United when they signed their captain in 2019.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sees Sancho as the perfect addition to improve his attack, but the 21-year-old's international coach clearly does not share the same opinion.

In the same summer he should become the most expensive English player, Sancho was deemed not good enough, or not experienced enough, by Gareth Southgate to play either of England's opening two European Championship games.

In fact, Sancho was one of the unlucky three players to not even make the matchday squad for the Three Lions' first Group D game against Croatia , failing to make the bench along with Champions League winner Ben Chilwell and the injured Maguire.

England ran out 1-0 winners at Wembley Stadium, so Southgate's choice of team and squad selection was not heavily questioned afterwards, but failure to spring Sancho from the bench when struggling to break down Scotland on Friday had fans and pundits alike questioning what it might take for the exciting attacker to feature.

Southgate's pragmatism shone through as he made just two substitutions in the scoreless draw, stciking to his tried and trusted rather than attempting to roll the dice to beat Steve Clarke's side.

But with England's qualification now secured to the knockout stage, the manager may look to rotate to keep players fresh for the last 16.

Southgate admits Sancho is in contention to feature, but gave a bizarre response when questioned about why he has not used Sancho yet at Euro 2020.

"We've got some explosive options and a lot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time," Southgate told reporters. "So as a coaching staff we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals.

"Jadon is in that mix. He's trained well the last few days and of course we have got those options and those decisions to make."

Southgate's reasoning might make sense if he had played veterans in the matches to date, but the opener against Croatia featured seven players making their major tournament debuts, many of whom have not played in the latter stages of the Champions League like Sancho has.

Neither of Southgate's chosen midfield pairing, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, have even played in the Europa League, never mind the Champions League, while a 17-year-old in Jude Bellingham was introduced as a substitute against Croatia.

Sancho has proven himself in Germany's top flight and in Europe and maybe if he had been playing in the Premier League instead of the Bundesliga, he might have more chance of getting gametime.

Having laid on 20 assists in each of his last three seasons at Dortmund, Sancho can undoubtedly provide the attacking spark England missed in both of their games so far.

One goal scored in two matches is a poor return for a team expected to contend at the European Championship, and Sancho can be the provider for Harry Kane the same way he sets up Erling Haaland at Dortmund.

“You’ve got someone like Jadon Sancho on the bench, 16 goals and 20 assists doesn’t even get on when we need to create," ex-England striker Ian Wright said on ITV  following the Scotland stalemate.

“We can talk about Harry Kane and the chances he could have had or how many touches he didn’t have, but at the same time did we really create enough?

“We are supposed to be a team that’s one of the favourites to win, but I was embarrassed."

England can avoid another embarrassing situation on Tuesday with an improved performance against the Czech Republic, and starting Sancho would surely help add the extra spark they have missed in front of goal.

There is a reason he's about to become the most expensive English player ever.

Southgate just needs to see what everyone else can see.