Record-breaking Jadon Sancho becoming Borussia Dortmund's guarantee
That Jadon Sancho has lit up the Bundesliga since joining Borussia Dortmund in 2017 was one of the league's unguarded secrets, and facts are abound that prove the 19-year-old is already among Europe's elite.
A jaded and frustrated Dortmund turned to Sancho to get them out of jail in Cologne on Friday night, the England international first firing them level with a superb diagonal drive into the far corner before his assist in stoppage-time set up Paco Alcacer to put the seal on Dortmund's second straight win this season, cementing their position at the top of the Bundesliga.
Both were record-breaking interventions from a young man whose stock is considered among the highest on the continent, and justifiably so.
A dip of the shoulder, shimmies past several markers and an unstoppable left-foot finish – there was something Arjen Robben-esque about the goal which Sancho struck in the 70th minute at the RheinEnergieSTADION. The now retired former Bayern Munich wing wizard forged a seemingly inimitable career out of his trademark party piece and while Sancho is only rambling the foothills of his own footballing pathway, he mastefully mimicked a Robben at the peak of his powers with his historic strike.
It was Sancho's 15th Bundesliga goal, making him the youngest player ever to reach that mark – 34 days younger than when Horst Köppel scored his 15th in 1967.
More was to follow in stoppage time, though, when Sancho's assist – his 16th since the beginning of last season – saw him further reinforce his reputation as Europe's best supplier of goals. Indeed, no other player from Europe's top leagues – including the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1 – has set up as many goals in the same span of time.
Watch: Jadon Sancho reflects on another fine Dortmund team effort
Record here, record there, Sancho nevertheless insisted he is only as good as his companions. "It's not me, it's the team," he told bundesliga.com. "They help me throughout training and I'm just thankful for my teammates and the coaches that are playing me week in, week out and especially all of the players on the pitch that are more experienced and that's giving me that extra advice and I'm just really pleased.
"Obviously me contributing to the game is just working for the team and that's what I want."
That team now has such strength in depth that the likes of summer signing Julian Brandt and World Cup-winner Mario Götze once again started on the bench. Achraf Hakimi came on to head Dortmund in front, while Jakob Bruun Larsen added further impetus when he replaced Thorgan Hazard. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Dahoud and Thomas Delaney only saw the linesman's back, with options aplenty for Lucien Favre.
"That's what the subs are there for," said captain Marco Reus to DAZN. "They give us a boost. We need a big squad for our ambitions and the coach is spoilt for choice, and that's a good thing – better like this than the other way round."
After back-to-back wins to get the new season off to a flying start, those ambitions are understandably high. "Coming so close last season, it was really disappointing not to win the championship," Sancho said. "But obviously this season, we're going to keep on going and try to win the championship, taking things game by game."
With each game, Sancho's own reputation glows that little bit more.
Gio Reyna, a worthy successor to Jadon Sancho as Dortmund's No.7
The USA international is ready to take up the baton from his former teammate in black and yellow.
What makes Jadon Sancho so good?
Sancho has exploded onto the European football scene with BVB, but what is it that makes England's generational talent so effective?
Jadon Sancho's 100
The England international has now made a century of Borussia Dortmund appearances in the German top flight despite being only 21.