Gareth Southgate recently said that Manchester United misfit Jadon Sancho was lucky to receive a call-up for the England squad (via The Guardian).
Sancho has been a shadow of a player he used to be during his remarkable four-year stint at Borussia Dortmund since moving to Manchester this summer.
Despite an underwhelming start to his life in the Premier League, he retained his place in the national squad in October, courtesy of his previous exploits.
Fast forward one month and Southgate omitted the Red Devils forward from his list for England’s decisive World Cup qualifying fixtures.
It looks like the manager’s words have fallen on deaf ears, as the former Dortmund talisman failed to improve his form at Old Trafford.
United’s marquee summer signing has yet to find the net in any competition for the club, and he is in danger of falling out of favour at the Theatre of Dreams.
So what happened to Sancho?
Has a broken promise led to Sancho’s downfall?
Many had thought that the up-and-coming Sancho could be the missing ingredient to complement Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rebuilding process at Old Trafford.
United wanted to bring in one of England’s most exciting young talents at all costs and badgered Dortmund to secure his services.
When they finally managed to strike a deal with the Germans in the summer, the Red Devils reportedly offered Sancho the iconic number seven jersey to convince him to swap allegiances.
Little did United bosses know they would re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo in a sensational piece of business just a few weeks later.
Edinson Cavani, who was entrusted with the number seven shirt during United’s negotiations with Sancho, was close to joining Boca Juniors at the time.
With the Uruguayan’s eyes reportedly laid on a move to Argentina, everything looked set for the lightning-quick winger to land the famous jersey.
Unfortunately, not only have United brought Ronaldo back, but they have also decided to stick with Cavani for another season, making Sancho only the third option to take the coveted number.
Ronaldo’s blockbuster return forced Cavani to give up No 7 for obvious reasons, leaving the English youngster with the number 21 shirt instead.
As bizarre as it may sound, it appears that United’s broken promise to Sancho may have had a devastating psychological impact on the player.
Ballon d’Or now beyond the realm of the imagination
It’s been two decades since an Englishman won the Ballon d’Or, while the last Red Devils player to claim the award was Ronaldo in 2008.
United must have hoped Sancho could snap both runs when they put together a lucrative £72.9 million bid to lure him away from Dortmund in the summer.
The 21-year-old winger swapped Manchester City for the Bundesliga as a raw talent in 2017 but still managed to take Germany’s top-flight by storm.
Sancho’s breathtaking dribbling ability, slick passing and deadly finishing made him one of the most enjoyable players to watch during his time abroad.
His dazzling displays at the Signal Iduna Park, backed by the staggering numbers, led to speculation about him joining the Ballon d’Or race at some point in the future.
However, in the most grotesque twists of fate, the English whizz-kid has gone from one of Europe’s hottest young prospects to potentially becoming one of the worst signings in United’s history.
If it’s motivation he’s looking for, Sancho may want to take inspiration from Man City, where Phil Foden continues to gain applause from a broad audience.
According to the bookmakers, Foden is currently the leading candidate to become the first English player since Michael Owen to land the prestigious individual prize.
The Cityzens’ star-in-the-making could be an example for Sancho to follow if he is to reignite his Old Trafford career and regain his place in the England national team.
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