One observer reckons Jadon Sancho is causing frustration among a trio of Man Utd stars, and a recent Erik ten Hag decision suggests he’s not thrilled either.
Sancho, 22, joined Manchester United in the summer of 2021 after a lengthy courtship. The England international arrived with a big reputation following an eye-catching four-year stint at Borussia Dortmund.
Indeed, the tricky winger concluded his Dortmund stay with 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 matches. A £73m switch to Old Trafford was the end result, though Sancho has failed to recapture the form that earned him the move.
After passing the 50-appearance mark for Man Utd a few weeks ago, Sancho has returned just eight goals and five assists.
He has looked lively at times this season and notably played a big part in Scott McTominay’s late winner against Omonia Nicosia two weeks ago.
However, according to pundit Gabby Agbonlahor, Sancho’s game boasts to many limitations to be truly effective as a Premier League winger.
Speaking to talkSPORT, the former Aston Villa frontman bemoaned Sancho’s unwillingness to take his man on one-v-one.
Sancho is a skilful player, though does lack top end pace. As such, the end result has often been attacks stalling at Sancho’s feet with the ball eventually passed harmlessly back inside.
That will be riling up one player in particular, according to Agbonlahor, who also reckons two other forwards will be questioning why Sancho plays and they don’t.
Why won’t Sancho take anyone on?
“I just want to speak about Sancho because when I watch Man United I look at Antony, I look at [Marcus] Rashford, I look at [Bruno] Fernandes and they look like they want to take a player on and want to do something and take responsibility in the attacking third,” said Agbonlahor (via the Mirror).
“Sancho, he gets the ball and passes it backwards. If I was Luke Shaw I’d say ‘stop passing it back to me, I’m giving you the ball so take someone on’.
“At Dortmund he was doing it every week. His confidence is that low, does he feel like he doesn’t have the speed or the trickery to get past someone?”
Sancho was recently substituted off just seven minutes into the second half against Chelsea on Saturday.
The scores were locked 0-0 at the time, with central midfielder Fred replacing Sancho as Ten Hag restructured his attack.
That would suggest Ten Hag isn’t all that convinced by Sancho’s ability to impact matches either, and Agbonlahor had more criticism to give.
Ronaldo, Elanga watching and wondering
“He’s being brought off after 52 minutes for Fred [against Chelsea],” added the pundit.
“Fred was unlucky not to start because he did very well last game but it just shows that they’ve had to play Fernandes up front for the last 35 minutes, Rashford went to the left and Antony stayed on the right because Sancho can’t perform.
“How many times do you have to play him? If you’re Ronaldo you’re probably thinking ‘how many chances is this guy going to get?’
“Elanga, how many times is Sancho going to get the chance to play for Manchester United because he’s not performing and he’s a million miles away from a chance to play at the World Cup.”
While Agbonlahor’s assessment is fair on the whole, it’s important to note Sancho is still only 22.
He does lack explosive pace that makes it difficult to beat his marker one-v-one. However, the same was true in Germany and Sancho was a revelation at Dortmund.
The Premier League was always going to prove a sterner test, though it’s far too early to close the door on a player whose talent and ability on the ball is not in doubt.