Jadon Sancho (l.) and Thomas Müller (r.) have been involved in a whopping 46 Bundesliga goals for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich this term, both grabbing 14 assists. - © 2019 DFL
Jadon Sancho (l.) and Thomas Müller (r.) have been involved in a whopping 46 Bundesliga goals for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich this term, both grabbing 14 assists. - © 2019 DFL

Jadon Sancho and Thomas Müller going toe-to-toe in Bundesliga assists battle


While their teams Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are duking it out for the 2019/20 Meisterschale, creative maestros Jadon Sancho and Thomas Müller are enjoying a fascinating mano a mano in the race to top the Bundesliga assists chart.

After 23 Bundesliga games, BVB's Sancho and Bayern's Müller are locked on 14 assists apiece, three clear of RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku – who shot up the standings with his four-assist haul against Schalke last weekend – and Sancho's Dortmund teammates Achraf Hakimi and Thorgan Hazard, who have 10 and nine respectively.

There's over a decade separating Sancho (19) and Müller (30) in age, and arguably an even bigger gap in style. Müller, the so-called 'Space Interpreter', is all about expertly timed runs and teasing out holes in opposition defences, whereas Sancho is more rock-and-roll, a feisty winger who tries to beat his man one-on-one and use his pace and trickery to devastating effect. Both methods are currently proving fruitful, with the two men emerging as the chief creative force of their title-chasing teams in 2019/20.

Müller (r.), Alphonso Davies (l.) and Bayern got the better of Sancho (c.) and Dortmund when the sides met in Der Klassiker in November (4-0). April's return fixture could be crucial in deciding the outcome of the title race. - Peter Schatz via www.imago-images.de/imago images/ActionPictures

Only one man in Europe's top five leagues has laid on more goals this term, and that's Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who still holds the Bundesliga record for assists in a single season: 21 with Wolfsburg in 2014/15. However, the Belgian has grabbed his 16 Premier League assists in three more outings than Müller and Sancho – and at the rate they're going, the duo could even topple his outstanding mark from five years ago.

"Maybe I'm not a goalscorer anymore," Müller mused last year. "I try to be more responsible, to give the team structure, organisation and power, to get assists. I try to win games and be important for my team, but it's not that important for me to be the top scorer."

Even if he is no longer overly concerned with pulling the trigger, the Bavarian native has certainly returned with a bang. After falling down the pecking order under former Bayern coach Niko Kovac, he has been a central figure since Hansi Flick took charge in November, starting all but two Bundesliga games and setting the tone for an excellent campaign with two assists in Flick's first assignment, a 4-0 home win over Dortmund. All five of his league goals this season have also come with the former Germany assistant in the dugout.

Watch: Thomas Müller under the tactical microscope 

In a similar way, Sancho is once again firing on all cylinders after a blip in the autumn. The teenage star began the campaign with three goals and four assists in his first five outings, but in October he was disciplined by Dortmund for returning late from international duty, and dropped for their 1-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach.

"Jadon's a great kid, but he's still very young," BVB sporting director Michael Zorc said at the time. "He's grown up very fast. He perhaps sometimes tests the boundaries. The decision wasn't easy, but there was no other choice. We have a responsibility to ensure the health of the squad."

The 11-time England international clearly got the message. Within a few weeks, he got back to both scoring and assisting ways against Paderborn, and hasn't let up ever since. In 21 appearances, he has notched an eye-watering total of 13 goals and 14 assists, which means he's had a direct hand in over 40 per cent of Dortmund's 65 league goals this term.

Watch: Jadon Sancho opens up in exclusive chat with bundesliga.com

For a 19-year-old to shoulder so much of the goalscoring burden at one of Europe's top clubs is nothing short of remarkable – and the sky's the limit now that Sancho has fellow teenage starlet Erling Haaland for company in the Dortmund frontline.

"He's a great guy," the Norwegian, also 19, recently said of Sancho. "You can see on the pitch, it's very good. The first second I played with Jadon, Marco [Reus], Thorgan [Hazard], you know these guys, it just sits direct. That's how it is with world-class players."

A man who has 40 goals in all competitions this season for Salzburg and Dortmund certainly knows attacking talent when he sees it. With Sancho equally adept at either creating or scoring the goals – and Haaland adding serious firepower – BVB are still very much in the hunt for a first Bundesliga title since 2011/12, and have already drawn first blood in their UEFA Champions League last-16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

The blossoming partnership between Sancho (l.) and fellow 19-year-old Erling Haaland (r.) is excellent news for Borussia Dortmund fans. - imago

"I just want to do the best for my team," Sancho recently told bundesliga.com. "I'm just trying to be a winner, and have that winning mentality every game I go into. I just love football. If I had a choice, I'd play every day until I'm 100 years old!"

Both Sancho and Müller are likely to have hung up their boots by the time 2100 rolls around, but their exploits will no doubt still be fondly remembered. In the meantime, the assist battle rumbles on for the Bundesliga's leading altruists, who will be hoping that their creative excellence leads to plenty more goals between now and May – and more importantly, to some much-coveted silverware for their clubs.