Pep Guardiola has no regrets over Jadon Sancho’s decision to leave Manchester City, insisting he is thrilled the winger has gone on to become a star for Borussia Dortmund.
Frustrated by the lack of a clear pathway from City’s academy through to the first team, Sancho left Manchester in 2017 to continue his career in Germany, just a year into Guardiola’s tenure.
It was hailed as a brave decision by the 17-year-old at the time, though he broke into Dortmund’s side during his first season with the club, scoring once in 12 league appearances. However, Sancho blossomed from a promising talent to a verified superstar during the 2018-19 campaign.
He will get the chance to shine against his former side in the Champions League next month, with Dortmund drawn against City in the quarter-finals.
Yet despite Sancho’s transformation into one of Europe’s finest attacking talents, Guardiola has no hard feelings over the player’s choice to leave City.
“I said many times, not a regret, he decides,” Guardiola told a news conference.
“He’s doing really well, congratulations, an exceptional player. A national team player with huge quality, doing really well in Dortmund.
“We wanted him to stay but he decided to leave – when they decide to leave all we can do is [let them] leave. I wish him all the best except when he plays against us. If he’s happy, I’m happy.”
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) March 19, 2021
Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Sancho has provided 48 assists across all competitions – 22 more than Marco Reus, who ranks second for Dortmund across the same period of time – with BVB winning 72 of the 118 games he has featured in.
Only Erling Haaland (47) can better Sancho’s goal tally of 45, while he leads the way for chances created with 251 – an impressive 101 more than second-placed Raphael Guerreiro.
Of those opportunities, 56 have been categorised as ‘big chances’, which are judged by Opta as those where it is expected a player should score.
Sancho also compares favourably when up against some of City’s squad. Only the exceptional Kevin De Bruyne has created more chances (343) in the same timeframe, while the Belgian has crafted 87 big chances.
De Bruyne’s assist tally stands at 48, level with Sancho, who ranks behind just City trio Raheem Sterling (69), Sergio Aguero (58) and Gabriel Jesus (56) in terms of goals scored.
Guardiola, though, remains philosophical about Sancho’s choice.
“Nobody knows – maybe he stays and we don’t play good or better. Every person decides the life they lead, other people have to respect it,” he continued. “We want him, he decides to go, all the best.”
Seven of Sancho’s goals have come from fast breaks, outlining his importance to Dortmund when they are able to counter-attack opponents.
Haaland is second in Dortmund’s squad in that regard with five fast-break goals, with Guardiola well aware of the task City face in trying to keep BVB’s vibrant attack at bay.
“We will face him, try to control him. We know the quality he has, everyone knows,” said Guardiola of Haaland, son of former City player Alf-Inge.
“The individual quality in Dortmund is from all departments, a strong team. In the Champions League, they always have done well.”
35 – @ErlingHaaland played 35 Bundesliga matches for Borussia Dortmund, his father Alf Inge Haaland played 35 Premier League matches for Manchester City. Erling scored 32 goals, Alf Inge 3. Comparison. @BlackYellow @ChampionsLeague pic.twitter.com/ath1D0Gx3L
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) March 19, 2021
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