England boss Gareth Southgate admitted Jadon Sancho has been called up for international duty even though he does not deserve a place based on form.
The 21-year-old winger has struggled since his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United, failing to register a goal or an assist in eight appearances across all competitions.
His numbers are in stark contrast to what he produced for Dortmund last season, for whom he managed 16 goals and 18 assists in 38 games across the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal.
Sancho was also limited to just one start and two substitute appearances as England reached the final of Euro 2020 before losing to Italy on penalties, with United’s new signing also missing one of the spot-kicks after being brought on.
Southgate has still named Sancho in his 23-man England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary, however, and wants to reassure the youngster as he goes through a difficult patch.
8 – Jadon Sancho has not scored or assisted in any of his eight appearances for Man Utd, this after registering five goals and five assists in his final eight appearances for Borussia Dortmund. His longest run without a goal or assist at Dortmund was seven games. Misused? pic.twitter.com/G8HwBZx7Gd
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 30, 2021
“Does he deserve to be in [the England squad] 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 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.”
Southgate also claimed it was only natural for Sancho to require time to adjust after moving from the German top flight to the Premier League, suggesting that it would be more difficult for him to hit the same numbers in England.
“The Bundesliga is totally different, Dortmund is a big club but Manchester United is one of the biggest in the world,” Southgate continued.
“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.”
Before joining up with England, Sancho will hope to kick-start his season with a goal if he features when United face Everton on October 2, in their final game before the international break.
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