Rumours that Erik ten Hag is unhappy with Jadon Sancho continue to grow after he was left out of the Manchester United squad for a Spanish training camp.
Sancho, 22, is in his second season at Old Trafford after the Red Devils paid Borussia Dortmund around £73m for his signature.
But, despite showing glimpses of his undoubted talent, the England international has failed to hit the expected heights.
The Londoner was handed only 20 starts from 29 Premier League appearances last season.
And, although he has started 10 top-flight games in 2022-2023, the forward has completed 90 minutes just once.
And pundits have been quick to criticise the former Manchester City youth player.
Last month, ex-United defender Paul Parker labelled Sancho United’s ‘worst buy ever’. Gabby Agbonlahor has also had his say on the situation.
And the former Aston Villa striker suggested Sancho’s lack of confidence to take on opposition players is frustrating his attacking team-mates.
Towards the end of November, a report by Spanish outlet AS stated that Ten Hag is ‘not satisfied’ with the forward’s contribution.
And he was left out of England’s World Cup squad, having been capped 23 times by the Three Lions.
United’s players who are not involved in Qatar have now jetted off to Spain for warm-weather training and a couple of friendly matches.
The north-west giants take on Cadiz next Wednesday before facing Real Betis on Saturday.
A number of youngsters have been included in the party but Sancho will play no part. And United revealed on their official website the reason why Sancho remained at home.
“Jadon Sancho is continuing his individual training programme as part of a process to get back to his highest level,” it read. “The club is fully supporting him in this.”
Sancho form a worry for Ten Hag
Much was expected of the youngster when he left Germany for Manchester last year. He scored 50 goals from 137 appearances in all competitions while at BVB and regularly terrorised defences.
Having bagged 20 times in 2019-20 and 16 the following campaign, Manchester United hoped for more of the same in the Premier League.
However, he netted just three times last season and had found the net twice before the World Cup break.
All is not well with the player. And the extent of Ten Hag’s worries were revealed when he was seen training with Dutch amateur club OJC Rosmalen.
United’s manager recommended that Sancho work with specific coaches in the Netherlands, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Tough times ahead for Sancho
Sancho struggled with illness in the weeks prior to the World Cup. It kept him sidelined and he will need to work hard to get back into the starting XI.
A return to the England fold does not look likely. And the man from Camberwell will have to watch his compatriots from afar as they battle on in Qatar.
The squad that travelled to Spain is mostly youngsters. Although experienced stars such as David de Gea and Anthony Martial were also on the plane.
Donny van de Beek made the trip while Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Anthony Elanga were also included.
Ten Hag has clearly not given up on Sancho. But if he does not start performing soon, decisions will have to be made about his long-term future at the Theatre of Dreams.