Manchester City shook hands on a lucrative contract with Jadon Sancho and did “absolutely everything” to keep the highly rated England Under-17 international before he joined Borussia Dortmund.
Sancho joined the Bundesliga giants on transfer deadline day, where he will wear the number seven shirt vacated by Barcelona’s record signing Ousmane Dembele, after turning his back on the Etihad Stadium due to concerns over his prospects of first-team action under Pep Guardiola
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Premier League match at home to Liverpool, Guardiola confirmed Sancho – who is yet to make a senior professional appearance – declined to sign a new deal and stopped coming to training before a departure the club tried to avoid.
“We arrived at an agreement with Jadon Sancho, we shake our hands. We shake our hands,” he reiterated, having successfully blooded Sancho’s youth-team colleagues Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz on City’s pre-season tour of the United States.
“We offered a huge deal for the academy in terms of salary. He was the most well-paid player in all the academy and we shake our hands.
“Before we went to the States we believed the next step was to have him all season training with the first team like Phil Foden and Brahim.
“Him or his agent decided, ‘I’m not going to sign the contract’. We said, ‘OK, you are not going to travel to the States – if you are not going to sign the contract you stay here’.
“After that, for the next two or three weeks, he didn’t appear in the training sessions. He should come to the training sessions but he didn’t come.
“Then we had an agreement with Dortmund for him to play there. All I can say is good luck because he is a huge talent.”
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) September 4, 2017
City failed in their attempts to bring in Chile forward Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal before the transfer window closed and a raft of attacking talent has made the first-team hard to penetrate for academy hopefuls since Shiekh Mansour’s takeover of the club in 2008.
Guardiola insists Sancho was set for a chance to make the grade but would give him no guarantees, much like any other member of a squad where Sergio Aguero is currently unsure of a starting berth.
“I cannot assure, even the best players we have like Sergio and the other ones, that they are going to play,” he said.
“I never did it in my life. I’m not going to assure you that you are going to play all the games until the end of the season so you sign the contract. I would be a liar.
“What you are offering a 17-year-old is to face the duels with Kyle Walker, with [Benjamin] Mendy, with Vincent Kompany [in training]. We’re going to see how your level is.”
Such was City’s desire to keep hold of Sancho that his no-show after the US tour omission did not signal the end of the road.
“Believe me, we tried absolutely everything,” Guardiola added. “Even after we shake their hands and regret that shake of hands, we said, ‘No, we insist’.
“We made a meeting with the father and the agent and another agent and with him. But if the players says, ‘No, no, no, no,’ what can we do?
“It’s disappointing because he’s [from the] academy and in the academy we tried to build him, help him and see the potential.
“He has to know, the family has to know, and especially the agent has to know we had a lot of confidence in him, a lot. “
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