Jadon Sancho is back at Borussia Dortmund and hoping to get back to his best in the Bundesliga. - © 2018 DFL
Jadon Sancho is back at Borussia Dortmund and hoping to get back to his best in the Bundesliga. - © 2018 DFL

How will Jadon Sancho fit in at Borussia Dortmund?


After departing for Manchester United in the summer of 2021, Jadon Sancho has completed a return to the Bundesliga and Borussia Dortmund. How will he fit into Edin Terzić's plans?

Find out more about Sancho's loan deal here

Sancho’s return has come at the right time for Terzić’s side. They currently sit fifth in the league standings and have endured a somewhat frustrating first half of the season, winning seven, drawing six and losing three in that time.

Dortmund, then, could do with a boost if they are to catch up in the title race. And who better than Sancho to provide that? But how exactly will he fit in at BVB?

Watch: Sancho's Bundesliga Mixtape!

In his first spell with Die Schwarzgelben, Sancho made well over 100 appearances playing across the front line, but predominantly in wide areas. 

In that time, he managed to hit double figures for both goals and assists in two of his three Bundesliga seasons. In his final campaign, he managed to score eight times and assist a further 11 for his teammates.

Sancho would be best and most effective in wide areas again for Dortmund. Especially considering the fact that Ian Maatsen has also joined the club on loan from Chelsea.

He struck up a special understanding with both Raphaël Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi in his first spell at the club; the Englishman thrives with industrious and highly offensive full-backs - and Maatsen certainly fits that bill.

Watch: The best of Sancho at Dortmund

Fellow Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens has effectively become the starting left-wing option for Terzić. The 18-year-old is an exciting talent but still a ways to go in terms of improving his game.

He has previously looked up to Jude Bellingham in the Dortmund side, and now with Sancho he can learn a great deal from a player with a similar on-field profile.

Sancho has previously demonstrated his pace and fit for the Bundesliga, but perhaps his best quality is combining with runners around him. In his final season, it was common to see him link up with the likes of Marco Reus, Hakimi, Guerreiro and Erling Haaland.

The 23-year-old’s threat on the ball always attracted two or three markers towards him and in doing so, he generated space for his teammates to exploit in behind. Even when he isn’t scoring goals or assisting, Sancho is always influencing matches.

Sancho, circled, tends to attract plenty of defenders - as in this example, creating space for Guerreiro to run into. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

The above instance is just one example from the 2020/21 season where Sancho has exhibited this ability to create gaps. Here, he has received the ball from Guerreiro, who is already on the move away from Benjamin Henrichs

Henrichs, along with Lukas Klostermann, are both caught ball-watching whilst doubling up on Sancho, which leaves Guerreiro free to run in behind, simultaneously unlocking an opportunity for a third-man run from one of the other forwards.

Speedy Sancho

Sancho may not be as rapid as the likes of Jeremie Frimpong or Alphonso Davies but he racked up some really positive numbers during his time at Dortmund.

He averaged about 35 sprints per 90 minutes, which was particularly devastating during counter-attacks as eight of his 38 Bundesliga goals came from punishing teams in transition.

What makes Sancho so effective in these situations is his unpredictability on the ball. Though he prefers his right foot in making final passes or taking shots, Sancho is no slouch with his left and therefore has no weak foot as such.

Which makes him a dangerous prospect during games where he can switch flanks and create doubt for opposition defenders marking him.

Sancho is at his best when combining with team-mates in tight spaces - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

Here is an example from a Revierderby between Schalke and Dortmund back during the 2018/19 season where he combines with Guerreiro on the left in a quick one-two combination movement to find the gap in behind the Schalke defence and score the winner.

Dortmund squad perfect for Sancho

Once again, this is the kind of situation where he benefits from having an adventurous partner in crime at full-back so one can pin the opposition defenders, whilst the other is free to receive the passes and run in behind into the space created.

One-two movements in tight spaces is another facet of Sancho’s skillset that will work well with Dortmund’s current attacking pieces. 

Striker Niclas Füllkrug likes to drop deep to receive the ball with his back to goal and find runners in behind, Julian Brandt's clever movement between the lines and the running prowess of players like Karim Adeyemi combines to become a recipe for success. There is also of course Reus, who has combined to produce some magical moments with Sancho.

Watch: Skip to 1:42 in the video below for an example of Sancho linking up with Reus

The video above is an example from a game against Paderborn at the Signal Iduna Park during the 2019/20 season. Sancho is positioned wide and manages to receive a deflected cross-field pass from Mats Hummels

In a split-second, before the defender has the time to react, Sancho cuts back on his right, clips the ball into the six-yard box with the perfect weight for Reus to rise high and put it past Leopold Zingerle in the Paderborn goal.

Sancho's goal are Dortmund's need of the hour

Sancho the creator can be lethal for Dortmund, but what about Sancho the goalscorer? He will be even more important.

With a tally of 30 goals scored so far from 16 games this season, Dortmund are the seventh highest scorers in the league, netting at an average of 1.87 goals per 90 minutes. Terzić will no doubt be keen to improve upon that tally with the addition of Sancho to the frontline.

The club’s top-scorers this season - Füllkrug, Brandt and Donyell Malen - are all tied with five each. Sancho, then, may yet be the final piece of the puzzle that swings Terzić’s men back into the scope of UEFA Champions League football for next season.

His penchant for one-twos is a useful trait for Dortmund attackers to exploit, but even on his own, Sancho can be a handful in one-on-one duels.

During the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, Sancho attempted the most dribbles of any Bundesliga player, 137 and 106 respectively. In the season after, he finished third for the same metric behind Bayer Leverkusen’s wingers Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby. 

Sancho used his dribbling prowess to manufacture shooting opportunities in and around the opposition penalty area, and during his time in the Bundesliga, the Englishman attempted 158 shots on goal.

Watch: Sancho's best Bundesliga goals

On average, he scored once nearly every four shots on goal. Of his 38 Bundesliga goals, Sancho scored a total of 33 with his right foot, and five with his left. 

Cutting inside from the left wing onto his right foot, Sancho was devastating once he found space in the opposition penalty area. He matched skillful close control with composure in front of goal, which helped him produce back-to-back campaigns with double figures for goals.

While he has not managed to consistently reproduce those numbers at Manchester United, a return to Dortmund and the Bundesliga could just be the spark he needs to get back in the groove.