Anything Messi can do... Jadon Sancho was the star in Borussia Dortmund's crucial win over Leverkusen. - © DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Anything Messi can do... Jadon Sancho was the star in Borussia Dortmund's crucial win over Leverkusen. - © DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
bundesliga

Jadon Sancho: MD23's Man of the Matchday and Borussia Dortmund's star keeping pace with Lionel Messi

Unless you’ve been hiding in a bear cave of late, you’ll know that Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho is the real deal. He’s so good, in fact, that Lionel Messi is the only player in Europe’s top five leagues to have produced more assists this season.

Sancho’s latest effort came 24 hours after Messi’s hat-trick heroics in a La Liga match against Sevilla. The 18-year-old supplied the opening goal and smashed in a sensational first-time volley as Dortmund beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 to reestablish their three-point lead over defending champions Bayern Munich at the head of the Bundesliga.

"It means a lot to us today," Sancho told bundesliga.com after inspiring BVB to a first league win in four. "We’ve been working hard in training. We stayed positive after games that haven’t gone our way. We’ve been training hard and we showed our fans today that we still have belief."

Watch: Jadon Sancho reacts to a welcome win for league leaders Dortmund

With Sancho in their ranks, why wouldn’t they? The Englishman has been a constant source of joy for Dortmund in 2018/19, outdone only by talismanic captain Marco Reus for goals and assists combined. He’s the only teenager among the top 70 providers Europe-wide, and surpassed Lukas Podolski as the youngest Bundesliga player to reach nine senior league goals with his wonder strike against Leverkusen (18 years, 336 days).

And there’s just something about playing Leverkusen that brings out the best in him. Sancho made history as the Bundesliga's youngest and Dortmund's first English scorer when he found the net - and chipped in with an assist - in Dortmund’s 4-0 win over Die Werkself last April. He has now been involved in more goals against the Rhineland club than against any other opponent since making his professional debut in a Bundesliga meeting with Eintracht Frankfurt in October 2017.

"Great tekkers!" Jadon Sancho scored his eighth Bundesliga goal of the current campaign on Matchday 23. - imago/DeFodi

All told, the former Manchester City youth player - who will turn 19 on 25 March - has nine goals and 14 assists to show for his first 35 Bundesliga outings. Despite also making his top-flight debut at 17, Messi had registered just two more goals (10) but six fewer assists (six) than Dortmund’s pace-setting No.7 by the time he reached 35 league appearances for Barcelona, aged 19 and a half. Permission to yelp with excitement granted.

"This has been a crazy year, I would never have imagined it," Sancho told Daily Mail earlier this month. "I just have to keep working hard, keep focused and hopefully I can go further.

"It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to work for this. Obviously training and showing what I’m about to coaches. They’ve seen what I can do and I’ve been showing it in games, doing my skills, doing what I do best. I’m combining with my teammates and just working hard for the team. I’m just happy it’s all working out and everyone is seeing that for themselves."