Jadon Sancho easily slipping into Ousmane Dembele's shoes at Borussia Dortmund
In Europe's top five leagues, only Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard have more assists than the Englishman this season
By Martin Laurence, WhoScored.com
Last Updated: 13/02/19 4:11pm
As Tottenham prepare to host Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Wednesday night, all eyes will be on one English player in particular, though it's ironic that he will be turning out for the German league leaders.
Indeed, 18-year-old Jadon Sancho is one of the hottest prospects in Europe right now, with a man-of-the-match performance against Hoffenheim at the weekend just the latest in a string of outstanding performances this season. It was the fourth time the winger had earned a WhoScored.com man-of-the-match rating in the Bundesliga this season, each of which have come in his last nine appearances.
The former Manchester City graduate marked a sensational display with his seventh Bundesliga goal of the season to open the scoring, moving into the top ten scorers aged 21 and under in Europe's top five leagues (eighth) in the process.
That may sound unspectacular, but it's worth noting that Sancho has made seven of 21 league appearances from the bench this season, not to mention the fact that his primary role is to create both chances and space with his increasingly intelligent movement.
When it comes to assists, after all, the England international is out in front in the same age group, with nine to his name in the Bundesliga. That's a tally only Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard (both 10) can better across Europe's top five leagues this season, and the quality of Sancho's end product at such a young age marks him out as a superstar in waiting.
Sancho's statistics in terms of chance creation, in fact, are not dissimilar to those that Ousmane Dembele - the man he has essentially replaced at Dortmund - recorded in his one season in the Bundesliga.
He's actually bettering the Frenchman's output so far, taking his goal tally beyond his predecessor's six in 2016/17, with three assists to make up to reach the 12 Dembele managed that year ahead of a move that reportedly cost Barcelona in excess of £100m.
It's little wonder then that, two years on, Dortmund have valued the player in nine figures already, and it seems increasingly possible that the teenager could become the most expensive English transfer of all time should he make a move.
For the time being Sancho is in no rush, and nor should he be given the fact that Dortmund's attacking, free-flowing football has unquestionably fast tracked his development.
The Westfalenstadion has proven to be a fantastic home to young talent in recent years and the 18-year-old is just the latest of those to feel the benefits of playing top-level football away from the spotlight, to an extent. The pressure is there at Dortmund, but not at the same intensity as Bayern in the Bundesliga or one of the very top sides in England.
The freedom Sancho is afforded to express himself has seen the youngster create the third most chances of all players aged 21 and under in Europe's top five leagues (39). However, that ranking improves still to share the lead with Justin Kluivert when it comes to key passes per 90 minutes (2.6).
He's on the podium again when it comes to dribbles of players in the same age bracket, with 62 enough to rank third once more. Again, when it comes to figures per 90 minutes (4.2) he's up, leapfrogging Guingamp's Marcus Thuram - son of Lilian - but not able to displace Nice forward Allan Saint-Maximin (4.5) at the top of the pile.
As a consequence of all of that attacking output, Sancho has a WhoScored.com rating of 7.48 in the Bundesliga this season. That is enough to rank seventh in Germany's top tier and second only to Kylian Mbappe (8.00) of players aged 21 and under in Europe's top five leagues, just ahead of that man Dembele (7.45) in third.
After an injury-hit first season at Barcelona, the France international has emerged as an important player for one of the powerhouses of European football this time around. It's surely only a matter of time until Sancho does the same, but for now Dortmund is his home, and it's a very happy one at that.