PSG v Dortmund: Rejuvenated Jadon Sancho aims to propel BVB into Champions League final

England winger has rediscovered his form on loan at former club after troubled spell at Manchester United

Jadon Sancho celebrates after Borussia Dortmund's Champions League last-16 win over PSV Eindhoven on March 13, 2024. EPA
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From first-team exile at Manchester United to being 90 minutes away from playing in the Uefa Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund, it would be fair to say that this has been a season of the unexpected for Jadon Sancho.

Dortmund face Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Tuesday having secured a 1-0 first-leg win when Sancho earned rave reviews for his display. Former England and Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves describing Sancho's performance as "outrageous", adding that he "out-performed the best player in the world" in Kylian Mbappe.

Back in September, Sancho's already stop-start United career had ground to a complete halt after a public falling out with manager Erik ten Hag, who dropped the England winger from the match-day squad that would go on to lose 3-1 at Arsenal.

Ten Hag had cited his poor attitude in training, which Sancho denied on a social media post calling the claims "completely untrue" and that he had been made "a scapegoat". The Dutchman in turn would banish the player from training with the first team and demand an apology that never arrived.

Whatever the rights or wrongs on either side, Sancho last kicked a ball in anger for United in August's 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest and was left training on his own at the club academy until January, when former club Borussia Dortmund came calling and a six-month loan deal was completed.

Sancho spent four seasons with the Bundesliga club from 2017 – moving to United for €85 million in August 2021 – having previously been a Manchester City academy player.

The winger's record at Dortmund was impressive, scoring 50 goals in 137 appearances, and Sancho made clear the move "felt like coming home" after a tough spell back in England.

“I can’t wait to see my teammates again, get out on the pitch, play football with a smile on my face, get assists, score goals and help the club qualify for the Champions League," he added.

It would take Sancho a while to regain form and fitness and he didn't score his first goal until March 9 when in Dortmund's 2-1 win at Werder Bremen. His previous goal involvement had been providing an assist at Darmstadt 22 minutes into his comeback match on January 13.

Sancho's last United goal came in their win at home to Fulham on the final day of the 2022/23 season – one of only 12 he notched in 82 games, a far cry from his stats in Germany.

"In my first spell at BVB, I registered a goal involvement in almost every match," Sancho told the club's media after the Bremen win. "So I can understand that the fans expect a lot of me. I do from myself too. I could also accept it if some people were angry with me. I want to continue to improve for the team."

Manager Edin Terzic was delighted with what he had seen from the 24 year old. "We were working in training all week on him getting into situations where he can gain confidence," said the German-Croat coach. "It showed what he is capable of, and hopefully he can continue like this."

Sancho had joined a team that had already made it out of the Champions League's "Group of Death", having topped a table that included future semi-final opponents PSG, Serie A giants AC Milan and big-spending Premier League club Newcastle United.

He was named man of the match after scoring in Dortmund's 2-0 home win over PSV Eindhoven in the last-16 second leg that sealed a 3-1 aggregate victory in what Terzic called Sancho's "best performance since he returned to us".

"I'm just grateful that I got the goal for the team," Sancho added after finding the back of the net in front of Dortmund’s 82,000-strong home crowd for the first time since May 2021.

"I've always got a special place for Borussia Dortmund, this is where I kind of made my name so I've got to be grateful to them but also to my teammates for believing in me."

In the quarter-finals, Dortmund recovered from a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid to defeat the Spanish side 4-2 in a thriller at Signal Iduna Park to set-up the PSG last-four clash.

Last week saw Niclas Fullkrug score a first-half winner against PSG to secure a narrow advantage but it was Sancho who made the headlines and looked back to the sort of levels that made him one of the most sought-after talents in European football.

What happens at the end of the season remains to be seen but for now, Dortmund are glad to have him to call upon.

"We are really happy with him. I think you can feel that he is happy to be with us," Terzic said in Monday's pre-match press conference. "Big games are decided by big players and tomorrow he will have the opportunity to decide it.

"We don't know how long the story will continue. This is part of the deal, that he is not our player from July 1, but until then we are going to make this time that we have as special as possible."

Updated: May 07, 2024, 6:27 AM