England manager Gareth Southgate has suggested the Bundesliga is not as “intense” or “tough” as the Premier League and that is why Jadon Sancho is slow to adapt at Manchester United.
Winger Sancho has struggled since moving from Borussia Dortmund, where his performances as a teenager first earned him a call-up to Southgate’s England squad, to Manchester United for £73m during the summer.
Sancho, now 21, has started only two Premier League games and is yet to register a goal or assist in eight appearances for his new club. In contrast, his longest run at the Bundesliga club without a goal or assist was seven games, and he scored five and set up five in his final eight games in Germany.
“There’s some adaptation to that, there’s a definite adaptation to the league, you’re not going to get the goals and assists numbers anywhere near in our league, that you are in the Bundesliga.
“There are some very good teams but also it’s a good league for young players to develop in because there are some teams that aren’t at that level. Our league, every game is intense and tough and he’s probably just starting to realise that.”
Sancho’s position in the Manchester United squad was immediately threatened by the surprise arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo after he decided to leave Juventus. And he will come under even greater pressure when Marcus Rashford, also competing for a place in the England squad, returns from injury.
At one stage, Sancho appeared to be becoming a first-team regular for Southgate but now places on one of England’s wings are courted by several players. Raheem Sterling has excelled for the national team even when his club form at Manchester City dips, mainly leaving one space that has been occupied in recent games by Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka or Phil Foden.
Southgate also has the option out wide of Mason Greenwood, again left out of the England squad to support his development, although many see the Manchester United player, who turns 20 on Friday, as a central striker. Southgate, nonetheless, has opted to retain Sancho in his squad, despite the shaky start at Old Trafford.
“Does he deserve to be in on these performances over the last few weeks? Well probably not,” Southgate said. “But I think we feel we have invested in Jadon over a period of time, we believe he can get to a high level.
“I would like some time with him to to chat with him and help that process that’s going on at Manchester United as well and I think for him to feel that we have belief in him at this point is a good message.”
He added: “We try to individually do the right thing at the right time, send the right message and sometimes the right message is to leave a player out and maybe they respond and that’s the right thing, but we feel with Jadon at this time it is important for us to keep him with us.”