'We shook hands on a new deal' - Why couldn't Guardiola keep new Man Utd star Sancho at Man City?

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When Jadon Sancho returns to Manchester in August,there will be plenty from the blue half of the city who will be taking a close interest in how he performs.

It is four years since Sancho departed Manchester City in search of first-team football, leaving behind a club that believed in his promise, and instead took a chance on Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

After 137 appearances, 50 goals and 64 assists for Dortmund, plus another 20 caps for England - including Saturday's Euro 2020 quarter-final victory over Ukraine - no one could argue that he did not find what he was looking for.

Now, Sancho is heading back to the Premier League as a superstar, with Manchester United set to complete a deal to sign him for a fraction under £73 million ($101m).

City are set to earn a windfall of around £10m ($13.5m) from the transfer after negotiating a 15 per cent sell-on clause with Dortmund on top of the £8m ($11m) they initially received following his move to Germany.

Not bad for a teenager who was in the final 12 months of his contract and had never made a senior appearance for the club.

But then again, it is a small change for a player that always seemed destined for the vey top, and in whom City invested a considerable amount of time to develop.

There remains the tantalising question of what might have been at the Etihad Stadium for Sancho had he got the chance to work under Pep Guardiola.

"Nobody knows," the City boss himself said in March when asked. "Maybe he stays and we don't play good or better. Every person decides what life they lead.”

City had wanted Sancho to stay, and made him a substantial contract offer before he had even played for the first team.

Jadon Sancho Manchester City GFX

Guardiola even revealed that they had shaken hands on a new deal, with everyone from the City boss down knowing what a special talent Sancho was.

Then 17, he was one of a trio of youngsters that the club saw as being destined for the first team. The others were Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz, with the latter now set to leave Real Madrid for AC Milan on a permanent basis following a successful loan at San Siro last season.

“What makes it special this year especially, is that we have three or four players we can genuinely believe have a very good chance of making it to the first team," chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak said in May 2017.

"You look at Sancho, you look at Foden, you look at Brahim Diaz, just to name a few - these are players that are extremely talented. These are players who have a very good chance of making it to the first team."

Just over three months later, Sancho had left the club.

Certainly Sancho was impatient for first-team football, which is why he turned down that contract offer. Guardiola was not willing to offer any guarantees in terms of minutes in the senior team.

Jadon Sancho Phil Foden England GFX

Helped by being at the club that he loved, Foden was prepared to wait and put his trust in a coach that has nurtured him into one of Europe's most exciting talents.

Instinctive and possessing outrageous individual skill, Sancho, though, believed he was ready to take his game to the next level right there and then.

He had already torn his way through youth football, memorably terrorising Barcelona's youth team at La Masia in one UEFA Youth League game, and felt ready to take the next step.

Sancho had always been a player in a rush, leaving Watford as a 14-year-old to join one of the country's leading academies at City.

But when he was left out of City's pre-season tour to the United States in 2017 while Foden and Diaz were both included, his frustrations reached new levels.

He missed a number of training sessions, with club staff unable to get in contact with him on occasions. Some at the club claim there were incidents before his omission from the touring party, but that exclusion expedited his exit.

Dortmund and a number of other clubs, including Arsenal and Tottenham, were monitoring the situation as his contract ticked into its final 12 months.

Jadon Sancho Borussia Dortmund GFX

Potential suitors would only have to pay a compensation bill of around £200,000 to sign him if his contract ran down, but Dortmund were so desperate to get Sancho to Signal-Iduna Park that that they stepped in with an £8m offer.

"It was a difficult decision, but the time is right for a new challenge where I can start to fulfil my potential," Sancho wrote in a farewell message to City fans on Twitter.

A month later, he was in Dortmund's first-team squad, and two weeks after that made his debut. By the mid-point of the 2018-19 season he was regarded as the most exciting teenage footballer on the planet, winning Goal's annual NXGN award.

Now 21, he fits the exact profile of the sort of player that City would normally be looking at, but for Guardiola and Sancho there was no going back.

"I've said many times, it is not a regret. He decides. He's doing really well," Guardiola said when the two sides met in the Champions League quarter-finals last season. "Congratulations, he's an exceptional player.

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"We wanted him to stay but he decided to leave, and when people decide to leave all we can do is [let them] leave. I wish him all the best, except when he plays against us. No regrets at all. If he's happy, I'm happy."

Sancho is now looking to the future, although did he did recently go back to scrub an old tweet from 2016, where he was pictured in a City shirt claiming: "Football is blue!"

There are plenty who hoped he would have held that view for a long time. Instead, his future is now in red.