Thanks to Jadon Sancho, it hasn't taken Borussia Dortmund fans too long to get over the summer departure of Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona.
The England youth international pitched up in Dortmund on 31 August 2017 to sign his first professional contract and has since turned out six times in the Bundesliga and made three starts this year alone.
bundesliga.com retraces the steps of the TAG Heuer Rookie of the Month winner for January...
Before this summer only true insiders of European football really knew Sancho. The 17-year-old’s parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago but he grew up in south London, an area of the capital with a high crime rate and relatively few prospects for young adults. As such, Sancho made sure his footballing talent provided him with an escape route.
"After school I always just wanted to play football," he was quoted as saying by German daily BILD.de. "Around me a lot of people were doing some bad things, but I didn’t want anything to do with that." Thankfully, Sancho had already begun to keep his feet on the ground, having joined Watford at the age of seven.
Aged 15 he moved to Manchester City, where he built on an encouraging first campaign to shoot to prominence the following season (2016/17), scoring 12 goals and providing four assists in 14 matches. Moreover, he also netted twice in the UEFA Youth League, the youth equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
As a reward, he was promoted to the Manchester City reserve side, where he again impressed with three goals and two assists. He did not make an appearance for the senior team, but this says more about established Premier League clubs’ well-known reluctance to throw young, homegrown players into action than it does about Sancho’s obvious gifts.
Further evidence of his burgeoning talent came in his performances for England. After six goals for the U16s, Sancho then notched 13 in 16 matches for the U17s (as well as providing seven assists) and inspired the team to this summer’s UEFA EURO 2017 final in Croatia. England were beaten on penalties by Spain but Sancho’s five goals and assists apiece earned him the Player of the Tournament award, an accolade bestowed on superstars such as Mario Götze, Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney before him.
“It was a difficult decision but the time is right for a new challenge where I can start to fulfil my potential,” said Sancho on Facebook as BVB acted decisively to swoop for one of England’s most talented youngsters. Sancho showed similar determination to leave his homeland behind and sign for a club whose pathway to the first team has proved noticeably clearer. After a period of bedding in and despite stiff competition from the likes of Götze, Christian Pulisic, Andre Schürrle, Shinji Kagawa, Andrey Yarmolenko and Marco Reus, Sancho has finally found his feet.
Watch: Highlights of Sancho's full Bundesliga debut
"Sancho is a really good lad who has pace and is good in one-on-ones," BVB head coach Peter Stöger said on his young starlet, who registered his maiden Bundesliga assist in the Matchday 19 draw with Hertha Berlin, a week after making his full debut against Wolfsburg. "He’s not the finished article just yet, but if he continues developing the way he is, recognising situations properly, then he’s got a great future ahead of him."