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From south London’s streets to Theatre of Dreams: Jadon Sancho will return to Manchester a superstar

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from south londons streets to theatre of dreams jadon sancho will return to manchester a superstar

Pep Guardiola was in full pursuit of Alexis Sanchez when Jadon Sancho decided it was time to force his way out of Manchester City and move to Germany.

It was August 2017, Sanchez was into the final year of his contract at Arsenal and Guardiola claimed the highly-prized 17-year-old had agreed his first professional deal, thought to be an offer of £30,000 a week, before changing his mind.

‘Maybe he thought he would get more minutes at Dortmund and I can understand,’ shrugged the City boss, hinting that the teenager did not fancy the fierce competition. ‘If the player says no what can we do?’

Jadon Sancho left Manchester City in the summer of 2017 to join Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho left Manchester City in the summer of 2017 to join Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho left Manchester City in the summer of 2017 to join Borussia Dortmund

In the same summer, City wanted to sign Alexis Sanchez, who moved to Man Utd shortly after

In the same summer, City wanted to sign Alexis Sanchez, who moved to Man Utd shortly after

In the same summer, City wanted to sign Alexis Sanchez, who moved to Man Utd shortly after

There is no way to know how Sancho’s career might have developed had he stayed with Guardiola.

He could have two Premier League winners’ medals already in the bag. He could have been key to the domestic treble last season. He could be preparing to face Real Madrid for a place in the last eight of the Champions League. Equally he could have been heading out on loan.

It is impossible to question Sancho’s courage, however, or his willingness to trust his ability and stride out into the unknown.

He has made quite a habit of it during his four-step journey from the south London streets to the Theatre of Dreams and reaped the rewards, as he stands on the brink of a record-breaking transfer.

As English football endlessly debated the best way to create pathways for its most talented teenagers, churning over ideas about quotas and B-teams, Sancho simply went out and created his own — with the considerable help and support of his father Sean.

When Watford scouts spotted him at the age of eight and invited him to join their academy, it meant a four-hour round-trip to training three times a week. Later he left home in Camberwell and moved in with an aunt in Northolt, in the north-west of the capital, then into the club’s residential facilities.

‘We saw it as the next step,’ recalled Sean. ‘That was always what was in my mind. Whatever needs to be done needs to be done.’

The same single-minded approach applied at 15, when City paid Watford the £66,000 in compensation prescribed by the Elite Player Performance Plan and Sancho, who supported Chelsea, left the capital for a lighter shade of blue.

Sancho moved from Watford to City at 15-years-old - but did not stay in Manchester for long

Sancho moved from Watford to City at 15-years-old - but did not stay in Manchester for long

Sancho moved from Watford to City at 15-years-old – but did not stay in Manchester for long

Sancho played alongside current first-team player Phil Foden in the City youth team

Sancho played alongside current first-team player Phil Foden in the City youth team

Sancho played alongside current first-team player Phil Foden in the City youth team

City spare no expense when it comes to providing their academy players with the finest facilities and a private education. He sparkled in a successful youth team alongside Phil Foden — two months younger than Sancho and a fascinating comparison since he chose to remain under the tutelage of Guardiola.

Foden has been used sparingly by Manchester City over the last three years and yet is becoming increasingly influential. He appears ready to take a significant step forward after the departure of David Silva.

Sancho cut loose, opting for Borussia Dortmund and sparking a trend of others who left the academies of English clubs for Germany, either on season-long loans or as permanent transfers.

He went for the football education. He certainly did not select the Ruhr Valley for its climate or lifestyle. He and his father moved into an apartment on the outskirts of the city and focused on the football.

Sancho opted to move to Borussia Dortmund for a footballing education in the Ruhr Valley

Sancho opted to move to Borussia Dortmund for a footballing education in the Ruhr Valley

Sancho opted to move to Borussia Dortmund for a footballing education in the Ruhr Valley

The appeal was in Dortmund’s reputation for identifying and developing some of the most talented players in the world. It is the same reason 17-year-old Jude Bellingham has rejected domestic offers to join them from Birmingham City. 

Dortmund gave Sancho the No 7 shirt as proof of how they valued him and thrust him into the first-team squad.

City were in pursuit of different targets and under different pressures having failed to win a trophy in Guardiola’s first season. Having missed out on Sanchez from Arsenal, they paid Leicester £60m for Riyad Mahrez.

Sancho made an impact towards the end of his first Bundesliga campaign and burst through in his second with a dazzling start which quickly earned him England recognition at the age of 18. 

Foden has the medals, although he is still waiting for his first England cap. Sancho has 11 caps and far more minutes of senior competitive football.

Foden stayed with City and has won countless medals already under manager Pep Guardiola

Foden stayed with City and has won countless medals already under manager Pep Guardiola

Foden stayed with City and has won countless medals already under manager Pep Guardiola

Guardiola decided to let Sancho leave, and now he will become a English record £108m player

Guardiola decided to let Sancho leave, and now he will become a English record £108m player

Guardiola decided to let Sancho leave, and now he will become a English record £108m player

The move to Germany quickened the advance into a high calibre of senior football and perhaps there is a positive case to state for a young footballer making his mistakes in another country. 

There was not the same scrutiny or race to judge when Sancho’s form ebbed and flowed. Nor was there a clamour when he was fined and dropped for turning up late for a team meeting as there might have been for a teenage Premier League star.

Three years in Germany has worked well for Sancho. He deserves credit for embracing the risk and showing the dedication to make it work. Plenty of others who followed have not enjoyed the same success. It is not a free ride. There might be advantages but that does not make it easy.

Sancho will return to Manchester as an England international and a superstar in the making

Sancho will return to Manchester as an England international and a superstar in the making

Sancho will return to Manchester as an England international and a superstar in the making

Sancho will return to Manchester to show the nation what he has become.

At £108million, he will become the most expensive English footballer in history if his move to Manchester United goes through as expected.

And there is a pleasing irony for those who enjoy such twists — as United try to clear Alexis Sanchez from the wage bill to help fund the investment.

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta offers a blunt assessment on why Mesut Ozil’s exile continued

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arsenal boss mikel arteta offers a blunt assessment on why mesut ozils exile continued

Mikel Arteta suggested his Arsenal side is evolving without Mesut Ozil as the club’s highest-paid player again missed out on the squad for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win at Leicester.

The Gunners made seven changes at the King Power Stadium as a Christian Fuchs own goal and late Eddie Nketiah tap-in sealed a 2-0 victory for the visitors.

Despite those alterations there was still no room in the matchday squad for either Ozil or Matteo Guendouzi, who have yet to kick a ball this season.

Mikel Arteta suggested his Arsenal side is evolving without Mesut Ozil as he missed out again

Mikel Arteta suggested his Arsenal side is evolving without Mesut Ozil as he missed out again

Mikel Arteta suggested his Arsenal side is evolving without Mesut Ozil as he missed out again

Ozil has not been involved since Project Restart having previously started every game

Ozil has not been involved since Project Restart having previously started every game

Ozil has not been involved since Project Restart having previously started every game

Ozil has not been involved at all since Project Restart having previously started every Premier League game under Arteta before lockdown.

Asked why the World Cup winner had fallen out of favour, Arteta replied: ‘The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving.

‘This is where we are at the moment. We want to evolve more and play better and compete better.

‘We need to keep maintaining that.

‘I’m really happy with the performance here, how difficult they’re making things for the coaching staff to select the squad.

Arteta said: 'The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving' as Ozil missed out

Arteta said: 'The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving' as Ozil missed out

Arteta said: ‘The team is evolving, you can see the level they are achieving’ as Ozil missed out

‘We are picking the players that we believe are the best for each game. You can see we keep training, it’s what we’re trying to do.

‘You can see that the players we are changing, we are using, it’s very difficult every week not for Mesut but for some other players as well to make the squad. Every week we try to pick the right players.

‘Of course I understand and I respect your questions but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible. I try to select the players that are, in my opinion, in better condition.’

Arsenal will face either Lincoln or Liverpool in round four and, if Jurgen Klopp’s Reds win on Thursday, it means two quick trips to Anfield for Arteta and his players.

The Premier League game on Monday night has been moved forwards to an 8pm kick-off to fall in line with new Covid guidelines for pub closing times.

‘You can imagine, probably the toughest place to go in Europe or the world. That’s the fixtures, we have to go there,’ Arteta added on the prospect of two away games against the champions.

‘Let’s go first on Monday, let’s prepare well and see how it goes.’

Arsenal will face either Lincoln or Liverpool in round four after 2-0 victory over Leicester

Arsenal will face either Lincoln or Liverpool in round four after 2-0 victory over Leicester

Arsenal will face either Lincoln or Liverpool in round four after 2-0 victory over Leicester

While Arteta shuffled his pack, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers played with an entire new deck as the Foxes side showed 11 alterations from Sunday’s win over Burnley.

‘I think if we are going to lose a game, I would lose in that way in terms of the players showed good energy in the game,’ Rodgers said following the defeat.

‘There were moments of quality in it and even though there were lots of players playing their first minutes of the season the cohesion in the team was very good.

‘I’m obviously disappointed with the goals, that was the only criticism – it was two scruffy goals that we lost to.’

Wilfred Ndidi was not involved for Leicester and Rodgers revealed after the match that the Nigeria international may be sidelined for up to 12 weeks with an abductor injury suffered against Burnley.

‘We are just waiting to hear more on that, but he could be anything between six and 12 weeks,’ he said.

‘It is an abductor injury – it may have come off the bone which could be a nasty injury, so we will wait to see if needs an operation – it does then it will be 12 weeks.’

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Everton fans fume over two more Jordan Pickford errors in their Carabao Cup win over Fleetwood

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everton fans fume over two more jordan pickford errors in their carabao cup win over fleetwood

Jordan Pickford was back in the spotlight after making two high-profile errors in Everton‘s Carabao Cup victory over Fleetwood.  

The goalkeeper was at fault for both the hosts’ goals, first dithering over a clearance which was eventually charged down for Mark Duffy to make it 2-1 and then changing his mind over a cross and failing to keep out Callum Camps’ overhead kick straight at him for 3-2.

Goals from Bernard and Michael Keane spared the shot-stopper’s blushes but Everton fans aired their frustrations on Twitter, with some fans calling for Carlo Ancelotti to find a new No1. 

Jordan Pickford made two errors in Everton's Carabao Cup win over Fleetwood on Wednesday

Jordan Pickford made two errors in Everton's Carabao Cup win over Fleetwood on Wednesday

Jordan Pickford made two errors in Everton’s Carabao Cup win over Fleetwood on Wednesday

Some fans called for Carlo Ancelotti to find a new No 1 after the shot-stopper's mistakes

Some fans called for Carlo Ancelotti to find a new No 1 after the shot-stopper's mistakes

Some fans called for Carlo Ancelotti to find a new No 1 after the shot-stopper’s mistakes

33547222 8766049 Some fans called for Carlo Ancelotti to find a new No1 after the a 101 1600900146887

33547222 8766049 Some fans called for Carlo Ancelotti to find a new No1 after the a 101 1600900146887

 

One supporter wrote: ‘Jordan Pickford is going to cost Everton so many goals this season. Ancelotti needs to replace him ASAP.’

Another added: ‘Don’t think we’ll be able to bring in a top keeper this window but next summer we NEED a new top class GK Jordan Pickford man.’

But Ancelotti refused to blame the England international for the first goal, instead claiming the goalkeeper had been put in a difficult position by his team-mates. 

‘I think the first goal it was not any individual mistakes, we passed the ball back to Jordan and it was a really difficult ball,’ said the Everton boss.

33547220 8766049 image a 104 1600900191922

33547220 8766049 image a 104 1600900191922

‘We could have behaved differently, so we didn’t do that well. Of course you have to improve there.

‘You want to build up from the back but when there is not risk. If it is risky it is not good, we can concede a goal like we did tonight and it is a good lesson for the future.

‘I didn’t speak to him (Pickford). I have to speak with the players that were involved when we were building up. He was not the only one, Jordan.’

But some fans were less forgiving than the Italian, with one tweeting: ‘If Jordan Pickford was a fisherman he still wouldn’t catch anything.’

Another on-looker wrote: ‘Everton seem to have brought in some very good players this transfer market, pity Jordan Pickford will undo all their good work.’

33547226 8766049 image a 100 1600900139722

33547226 8766049 image a 100 1600900139722

33547230 8766049 image a 106 1600900267798

33547230 8766049 image a 106 1600900267798

Carlo Ancelotti refused to blame the England international for the goals Everton conceded

Carlo Ancelotti refused to blame the England international for the goals Everton conceded

Carlo Ancelotti refused to blame the England international for the goals Everton conceded

A brace from Richarlison and goals from Alex Iwobi, Bernard and Michael Keane set up a fourth-round tie with West Ham and Fleetwood boss Joey Barton highlighted the gulf in class between the Premier League outfit and his League One side.

‘We had a 18-year-old, a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old at centre-back. We never had any ball but we knew that would be the case,’ he said.

‘We then gave them a goal and they got the second goal. We adjusted at half-time, brought Duffy on and then we got a gift by closing the keeper down.

‘Then we shoot ourselves in the foot by conceding in a few minutes and then we got back into it again – but they have the quality to pick you off on the counter.

Pickford was unable to keep out Callum Camps' overhead kick despite it being straight at him

Pickford was unable to keep out Callum Camps' overhead kick despite it being straight at him

Pickford was unable to keep out Callum Camps’ overhead kick despite it being straight at him

‘I am pleased we made it into a cup tie because at half-time it looked like being a long 45 minutes.’ 

On Everton fielding a strong side, Barton added: ‘I am delighted with that because it shows Everton are taking the competition seriously.

‘It pays us enormous respect that they turned up and played in the correct manner, especially when you look at the gulf in class at both clubs. 5-2 probably flatters them at the end but they were way above us tonight.’

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Frank Lampard on the cusp of completing swoop for Edouard Mendy from Rennes

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frank lampard on the cusp of completing swoop for edouard mendy from rennes

Frank Lampard believes the club’s £22million move for Rennes’ goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is on the verge of completion.

The Chelsea boss has been trying to bring in a new shot-stopper all summer and looks to finally have his man. 

If Mendy arrives in time he could be set to make his debut in this weekend’s trip to West Brom, with Kepa Arrizabalaga facing the drop after a difficult start to the season. 

Chelsea's move for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes is on the verge of completion

Chelsea's move for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes is on the verge of completion

Chelsea’s move for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes is on the verge of completion 

Frank Lampard believes the shot-stopper's medical is done ahead of a £22million transfer

Frank Lampard believes the shot-stopper's medical is done ahead of a £22million transfer

Frank Lampard believes the shot-stopper’s medical is done ahead of a £22million transfer

‘With Mendy, the medical, I think it’s done, but I want to be a bit careful and don’t want to give absolute confirmation until I see him, possibly over the next 24 hours,’ said Lampard. 

‘But it seems like it’s on the verge of being done.’

Current No1 Arrizabalaga has struggled in the opening games of the season. The ‘keeper let a weak shot squeeze past him in the first match against Brighton and was under-fire against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. 

Current No1 Kepa Arrizabalaga could face being dropped for this weekend's trip to West Brom

Current No1 Kepa Arrizabalaga could face being dropped for this weekend's trip to West Brom

Current No1 Kepa Arrizabalaga could face being dropped for this weekend’s trip to West Brom

The Spaniard was at fault for the Reds’ second goal after his uncertainty on the ball allowed Sadio Mane to intercept his clearance before finishing into the net.

Chelsea beat Championships side Barnsley 6-0 to progress to the fourth-round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, with new signing Kai Havertz scoring a hat-trick.

Tammy Abraham, Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud also got on the scoresheet while Willy Caballero kept a clean sheet in his first start of the season.

New signings Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell made their debuts at Stamford Bridge. 

Silva played 61 minutes before he was substituted for Kurt Zouma while Chilwell replaced Havertz for the final 25 minutes and grabbed an assist by setting up Giroud.  

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