If Jadon Sancho's Supercup display is anything to go by, Borussia Dortmund are in for a treat in 2019/20. - © imago images / Thomas Bielefeld
If Jadon Sancho's Supercup display is anything to go by, Borussia Dortmund are in for a treat in 2019/20. - © imago images / Thomas Bielefeld
bundesliga

Jadon Sancho: The key to Borussia Dortmund's title challenge in 2019/20?

Jadon Sancho watched Marco Reus pick up Germany's Footballer of the Year award before Borussia Dortmund's Supercup win over Bayern Munich on Saturday — his display in the 2-0 win suggests Sancho could be the man in the spotlight in 12 months' time.

Not since the brilliant, uncompromising Germany international defender Jürgen Kohler was voted the Bundesliga's top player in 1997 had a Dortmund man picked up the award Reus received in front of an adoring Signal Iduna Park crowd.

When the game started, though, Sancho did not just steal the show, he ran it, and if he plays like that on a consistent basis throughout the 2019/20 campaign, Dortmund could well be celebrating back-to-back winners.

Watch: Dortmund 2-0 Bayern - Supercup highlights!

Not that you get the feeling Reus would be too unhappy at losing out to his teammate. The 30-year-old has showered enough praise on Sancho, who is 11 years younger, to suggest he is putting himself forward as a candidate to be the president of the ex-Manchester City prodigy's fan club.

"It's just crazy. I think it's incredibly important that he comes off the bench and does so well every time," said the BVB captain early last season when — and this seems hard to believe now — Sancho was only used as an 'impact player'.

"When our opponents ease off a little and Jadon comes into the game, then he's a weapon for us every single time. We're happy to have him up our sleeve and he always gives us a boost."

Watch: Sancho under the tactical microscope

The boost has been mutual. Sancho made it clear he left City for Dortmund in 2017 in search of the playing time that would help him fully develop the talent that no-one doubted he possessed.

He did make a huge impact as a substitute, and was involved in a goal every 21 minutes in his first six fleeting appearances of the 2018/19 campaign. Lucien Favre recognised that made Sancho too good to be kicking his heels on the bench at kick-off, and he started Dortmund's remaining 28 league fixtures.

He is a bona fide first-choice first-teamer now, and if he does depose Reus as German football's top man this season, Sancho is clearly aware of the debt he will owe his predecessor.

"There are a lot of players who help me, and of course Marco Reus, our captain," explained Sancho, who was involved in one more BVB league goal than Reus last season, topping the division's assists chart with 14. "I watch him. The things he does on the pitch are incredible. It's fully deserved that he's Germany's Footballer of the Year."

Watch: A closer look at Jadon Sancho's breakout season in the Bundesliga

Just as it was that Sancho took the plaudits for the way Favre's men picked off last season's double winners. The Bayern players grumbled they had made mistakes, but all teams do, every game. It is the way the opposition exploits those errors that makes them costly or not, and thanks to Sancho, Dortmund ensured Bayern paid dearly.

The usually impeccable Thiago Alcantara proved he too is, sometimes, immortal when he gifted Sancho possession just inside the Bayern half — even the Spanish international midfielder, usually so sure in possession, probably cannot tell you what happened.

But there was still a lot of work to be done, and Sancho did it quite brilliantly, manouvering himself and the ball between a pursuing clutch of Bayern defenders before insolently flicking the ball to Paco Alcacer to clip home the opening goal.

If trickery and vision were required to tee up the first, pace and clinical, nerveless finishing were required for the second as Sancho escaped the Bayern back four to seize onto Raphael Guerreiro's pass and drill a shot under Manuel Neuer. Most players become nervous when they breakthrough on goal and see Neuer standing in their way, but up against one of the game's foremost exponents of the one-on-one duel, Sancho did not blink.

When you marry confidence to natural born ability, it is a union made in football heaven.

Lift-off! Sancho has started the 2019/20 season as he means to go on with Dortmund. - 2019 Getty Images

"Jadon is a serious talent," enthused Axel Witsel, who plays with Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne at international level. "Even the Bayern defenders were scared when he was on the ball, but there's nothing new there because he just has so much quality.

"He is quick, technically gifted and he can score goals himself as well as lay them on for his teammates. He really is the complete player."

It certainly looked that way against Bayern as Sancho turned Niklas Süle, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Joshua Kimmich — all world-class performers — into powerless players up against the Englishman's talents. Not that they should feel too bad.

"When Jadon approaches you in a one-on-one, it's incredibly difficult [for the defender]," sympathised Reus. "He's a fantastic player, but he's still learning."

Watch: Jadon Sancho discusses his Supercup heroics

That is the great thing for Dortmund, who took a gamble on a then-17-year-old's potential, and the terrifying prospect for those defenders who will have to try and stop Sancho in the future. What should concern them even more is that the London-born youngster is — despite Witsel's words — fully aware he is not yet the finished article.

Sancho admitted that Lukasz Piszczek, the veteran right-back who plays behind him at Dortmund, puts pressure on him "so that I do even more, that I go the next step." Reus too has some quiet — and maybe at times not quite so quiet — words of wisdom too.

"It's good to have him on the pitch talking to me and giving me advice, because when he tells me things, I listen," Sancho said. "I just have to keep taking that advice and learning as a player."

Sancho (r.) has been working on the defensive side of his game, on the advice of Reus. - 2019 Getty Images

Sancho himself is also fully aware of the measured risk Dortmund took on him, and is very happy to keep repaying their leap of faith.

"I don't know what the future will bring, but you won't find me saying anywhere that I'm not happy here," said the youngster, whose current BVB deal runs through to 2022.

"With all the rest, all the speculation, I don't bother myself with that. It would only sap my energy."

Süle, Kimmich & Co. will have woken up on Sunday morning their egos bruised, their bodies sore, and praying Sancho would read the sports news more.