Jadon Sancho has left Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United, but just as the young Englishman replaced the Barcelona-bound Ousmane Dembele as a teenaged superstar winger, BVB have more where they came from. And it's not only Gio Reyna…
Sancho returns to England four years after swapping Manchester City for the Signal Iduna Park. He arrived aged 17, bright-eyed and full of promise. He leaves as a 21-year-old who has plundered 50 goals and 58 assists in all competitions. He become an England regular during his time in Germany, and also has a DFB Cup medal to his name after his brace against RB Leipzig in May's final.
Fans of Die Schwarzgelben will naturally be sad to see him go, but it's worth remembering that we've been here before. Dembele was a relative unknown when he replaced the departing Henrikh Mkhitayran in 2016 - just as Sancho was the following season when he inherited the Frenchman's role in the team.
So, what do Dortmund have in store this time around?
Country: USA (8 caps/4 goals)
First in the queue is Reyna. The son of former USA internationals Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan, his talent has been obvious from an early age. Dortmund have already tapped into it, and discovered a rich raw material that is getting closer and closer to becoming the refined, final product. Reyna converted a Bundesliga debut assist from Jude Bellingham on Matchday 1 of the 2020/21 season, and at the age of 17 they became the youngest goal-scoring combination in league history. It was one of seven competitive strikes from the US international at club level during his first full pro campaign, with seven assists thrown in for good measure.
Watch: Gio Reyna's 2020/21 learning curve
Three of them came in one game, making him the youngest player to grab a hat-trick of assists in a single Bundesliga match. Reyna made his international debut the same month he penned a new club deal through to 2025 - when legally permitted to do so after turning 18 in November 2020 - and he now has four goals in eight appearances for the USMNT. He also has a DFB Cup winner's medal around his neck, so what's next? "I already feel like I'm becoming part of the new generation of big players," he told The Players' Tribune last last year. "I don't want to become just a good American player. I want to be consistently one of the top 10 players in the world."
Country: Germany (U19 cap)
Both Sancho and Reyna have emerged from Dortmund's youth ranks, and the next off the production line is primed and ready for impact. Knauff was something of a surprise starter in the quarter-finals of last season's UEFA Champions League, and he certainly caught the eye against Manchester City after only a handful of outings in the Bundesliga. "I'd got a few minutes under my belt in the Bundesliga, including my first assist against Cologne, and I was feeling good in training," Knauff told SPOX. "Starting that game will remain one of my best memories, though." Many more memorable moments can be expected to follow, especially considering he got his first Bundesliga goal - in a win over Stuttgart - just four days after the City game.
With seven goals and as many assists for Dortmund's U19s in 2019/20 - including a brace in the UEFA Youth League against Inter Milan - BVB's sporting director Michael Zorc had felt it was time for Knauff to train with the first team. "He's very talented, with great pace, and he's a good dribbler," he said. Although Knauff did not break into the first team straightaway, the seven goals and six assists in Dortmund's reserves confirmed he was as comfortable playing against men as he'd already proven to be with the boys. With Sancho's position now up for grabs, his "dream of taking another step forward" by becoming a first-team regular could soon be close to becoming reality.
Country: England (U16 cap)
Sancho was the role model for Bynoe-Gittens, who followed in the very same footsteps from Manchester City to Dortmund and is tipped to enjoy a similar meteoric rise in years to come. "When Sancho was at City, he was doing bits in the 18s, scoring every game, so in a way, I want to be like him," said the 16-year-old. "You’ve got to take stuff from other people to make the best version of yourself. You’ve now got to score and assist to be the best." The similarities with Sancho do not end there. With a preference for operating as an inverted winger on the left, Bynoe-Gittens has a similar pace and the same excellent close control as his peer, becoming lethal with the ball at his feet.
"He's a highly talented offensive player, but he should develop patiently with us in the junior division," said Zorc when the youngster arrived in September 2020. "We don't want expectations to be too high right from the start." Bynoe-Gittens is already punching above his weight with Dortmund's U19s, though, despite still being eligible for the U17s, and there seems to be something premonitory about his first assist setting up a certain Youssoufa Moukoko. Those two have the potential to become of the deadliest combinations in the Bundesliga and Champions League in years to come.
Gio Reyna set for comeback
The US international is expected to be involved when Dortmund start pre-season training on Monday.
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