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Jadon Sancho’s moment of magic in the Nou Camp was a perfectly-timed reminder of his class

It was the kind of goal scored by a someone with a point to make.

Jadon Sancho produced three immaculate touches to retrieve a pass that had been played behind him, bamboozled Barcelona defender Junior Firpo and picked out the top corner.

There was a powerful motive, even an anger, in his movements and the emphatic finish. Here was a player making a statement.

Jadon Sancho (centre) was dropped to the Borussia Dortmund bench for their crunch Champions League fixture in Barcelona after turning up ‘considerably late’ for a team meeting

It's the England star's latest setback this season as Borussia Dortmund struggle for form

It’s the England star’s latest setback this season as Borussia Dortmund struggle for formĀ 

A statement to his manager at Borussia Dortmund, Lucien Favre, who had dropped Sancho to the bench for a match critical to their Champions League aspirations.

A statement to all those doubters who have come to wonder whether his young career is already coming off the rails.

And a statement to all those interested elite clubs – Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona – who want the 19-year-old in their colours next season.

It was merely a consolation as Dortmund slipped to a 3-1 defeat that leaves their Champions League hopes hanging in the balance, but the goal undoubtedly had a wider meaning.

It said that regardless of all Sancho’s troubles in the past few weeks, all the public denouncements from his manager, all the patchy form, all the scapegoating for Dortmund’s wider failings, he remains a class act and a Ā£100m player.

It's the latest instance of poor time-keeping to affect 19-year-old Sancho's Dortmund career

It’s the latest instance of poor time-keeping to affect 19-year-old Sancho’s Dortmund career

Once on the field, Sancho scored a stunning goal which proved to be a consolation

Once on the field, Sancho scored a stunning goal which proved to be a consolationĀ 

Sancho’s on-field abilities have never really been questioned. At least not outside Dortmund, where Favre seems to have lost patience with the youngster.

It was Favre who hooked him just 36 minutes into Dortmund’s biggest Bundesliga match of the season, at Bayern Munich earlier this month. At the time, Dortmund were 1-0 behind.Ā 

They went on to lose 4-0 but who knows whether Sancho could have found them a path back into the contest.

On Wednesday night, Dortmund trailed 2-0 when Favre relented and brought Sancho off the bench at half-time.

They unquestionably carried more threat with him on the pitch instead of the less creative Niko Schulz, who’d missed a golden chance in the first minute that could well have changed the direction of the match.

Favre hooked Sancho after just 36 minutes of Dortmund's 4-0 loss at Bayern Munich

Favre hooked Sancho after just 36 minutes of Dortmund’s 4-0 loss at Bayern MunichĀ 

With Favre under pressure for Dortmund's poor form, he needs to maintain squad discipline

With Favre under pressure for Dortmund’s poor form, he needs to maintain squad disciplineĀ 

SANCHO THIS SEASON

Appearances: 18

Minutes: 1,383

Goals: 6

Assists: 9

Minutes per goal: 231

Borussia Dortmund in all comps

Though Dortmund did fall three behind, Sancho reduced the arrears with 13 minutes to play and later saw another shot tipped onto the crossbar by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Had he been involved from the outset, would Sancho have changed the outcome for Dortmund? Again, we’ll never know.

With his abilities not in doubt, the more pertinent issue right now is Sancho’s discipline off the pitch.

It emerged on Thursday that Favre had benched Sancho because he turned up ‘considerably late’ for a team meeting in the hours before kick-off.

With his own position under threat amid an inconsistent start to the season, Favre needs to preserve discipline in the squad and Sancho doesn’t exactly help himself.

Only last month, he was dropped from the Dortmund squad for an important game with Borussia Monchengladbach and fined Ā£86,000 after reporting back to Germany late following international duty with England.

It was far from the first instance of Sancho’s slack time-keeping and it’s clearly something he needs to address.

Sancho was fined and dropped after returning late from England duty in October

Sancho was fined and dropped after returning late from England duty in October

It was the latest setback for Sancho in a season with Dortmund that has been up and down

It was the latest setback for Sancho in a season with Dortmund that has been up and down

But his early substitution against Bayern took the sting out of last month’s ban and fine because it left Sancho publicly humiliated and the scapegoat for an atrocious Dortmund performance.

It also increased the suspicion that his time at Dortmund is drawing to its close and that one of the aforementioned suitors will make their move for the winger in the summer.

Sancho may have been out of touch in the last few weeks but returns of six goals and nine assists in all competitions this season confirm he is one of the best players of his age and position in Europe.

If Real Madrid, Manchester United or whoever splash out Ā£100m for Sancho, would they be willing to overlook the odd incident of tardiness to have such a quality player in their ranks?

He’d be far from the first box office player to cause a manager a headache and it depends really on where the line is drawn.

Sancho is expected to draw interest from a number of Europe's leading clubs in the summer

Sancho is expected to draw interest from a number of Europe’s leading clubs in the summer

What Sancho needs to demonstrate for the remainder of the season is consistency. Playing to a high standard in every game rather than every two or every three.

He may be young, but it’s clear he possesses the capability to drag Dortmund through tricky moments in games with a flick pass, a sharp turn or a burst of acceleration.

Showing that on a few occasions between now and May will confirm to the big beasts that he will fit right in.

It will also erase the current speculation that all the interest from elsewhere has turned his head.

There will be a busy marketplace for Sancho in the summer – especially if he performs well for England at Euro 2020.

For now, he should revel in those moments like his breath-taking goal in the Nou Camp and make his point well.

Ā 



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