Jadon Sancho has changed Pep Guardiola narrative thanks to Manchester United decision – Richard Fay

There will be a very predictable line of questioning at Pep Guardiola’s press conference later today, and for good reason too. Manchester United travel to face Man City in the Premier League this weekend and know that any hopes of causing another upset at the Etihad will likely rely heavily on the performance of Jadon Sancho.

Guardiola’s eyes will likely roll back into his head when he hears the inevitable namedrop. Such is the well-documented tale of when, aged 17, Sancho was sold for £8million after rejecting the offer of a new contract at City.

He never made a senior appearance during his time at City, but since then he has established himself as an England international and become one of the finest attacking players in Europe.

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“I’ve said many times, it is not a regret,” Guardiola insisted ahead of facing Dortmund in the Champions League last year. “He decides. He’s doing really well. Congratulations, he’s an exceptional player.

“We wanted him to stay but he decided to leave, and when people decide to leave all we can do is (let them) leave. I wish him all the best, except when he plays against us. No regrets at all. If he’s happy, I’m happy.”

It is safe to presume those quotes will be regurgitated in some form during Friday’s media briefing. It is no secret that City wanted to keep Sancho but couldn’t offer the immediate guarantees of playing time that he wanted. That is the same reason why he turned down an offer to join United directly from their local rivals when he left back in 2017.

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Guardiola had omitted Sancho from City’s pre-season tour squad that summer and United were prepared to continue working on a deal beyond the transfer deadline. However, the player’s advisors wanted to conclude a move before the window closed and he joined Dortmund for a £8million knockdown, rejecting offers from both United and Tottenham.

“Nobody knows,” the City manager added when asked if Sancho would have become a world-class player under his tutelage as well. “Maybe he stays and we don’t play good or better.”

Given the success of Phil Foden on the other side of Manchester, there is a clear argument to suggest Sancho would have enjoyed a similar pathway to success, albeit a slower one than he got in Germany. However, it is also wrong to suggest City missed out on his talents, given that they hardly struggled without him.

Instead, the narrative this weekend should be about a United transfer that is beginning to pay off. They could quite easily have splashed £108million on Sancho two years ago when Dortmund played hardball over a transfer fee. They waited a year and got a more experienced version of the winger for £35m less.

With Sancho looking rejuvenated under Ralf Rangnick and arguably the best player in the entire Premier League last month, he should be full of confidence that he can deliver a much-needed win when it matters most on Sunday afternoon.

This weekend isn’t about proving City wrong, it is about proving United right.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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