Der Klassiker: What's gone wrong for Dortmund superstar Sancho?

Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho remained at Borussia Dortmund for this season, but things are not quite going to plan for the England man.

This year's blockbuster 'will he, won't he' transfer saga saw Manchester United repeatedly linked with a €120million swoop for the winger, only for no such move to materialise.

Instead, Sancho was expected to star again in the Bundesliga ahead of more speculation in the coming windows.

But while Dortmund have started well in 2020-21 and are level on points with leaders Bayern Munich ahead of this week's Klassiker, Sancho has not been so impressive.

He has played five of BVB's six league games but is yet to score and has supplied just two assists in a disappointing early return.

We assess the Opta data in a bid to find out just what has happened to the 20-year-old.


Clearly, Sancho is less productive than in seasons past. He had 17 goals and 16 assists in the Bundesliga last term, registering a goal involvement every 69 minutes and creating 69 chances in total (2.7 per 90 minutes)

This term, he scores or assists once every 192 minutes and has played only nine key passes (2.1 per 90), although four of these have created a big chance. Only Thomas Muller (six) has set up more in the Bundesliga.

Sancho is averaging more touches (82.5) and touches in the opposition box (5.6) per 90 in the new season but is now less involved in the key moments of the match. He has been involved in only two sequences leading to a goal, having played a part in 41 in 2019-20 - behind only Robert Lewandowski (45).

By some measures, however, it appears Sancho has actually improved in 2020-21, he is still attempting 6.1 dribbles per 90 but now completing 69 per cent of these runs - up from 50 per cent.

The former Manchester City prospect is also now attempting a shot 2.6 times per 90 (11 in total), an increase from 2.0, but that is a cause for concern given his failure to find the net.


Dortmund coach Lucien Favre floated one explanation for Sancho's downturn in form last week as he suggested the links to United had been unhelpful.

"Every player has slow periods," Favre said. "There was a lot of talk about Jadon in the summer, something like that can also have an impact."

In terms of the numbers, though, it is that shooting statistic that might worry Favre.

Only three of his 11 shots have hit the target, with six blocked, and their combined Expected Goals (xG) is a meagre 0.8, suggesting Sancho is looking for goals from positions where a pass might be the better option, further explaining the decrease in his creativity.

Muller has also had 11 attempts yet has netted four times.


It is not just record-breaker Muller who Sancho is struggling to match up to so far this term. Bayern have two very different styles of starting winger in Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane, yet both are outperforming Sancho.

Gnabry does not have a single assist and has created just nine chances, like Sancho, but he has scored four goals.

The ex-Arsenal man is less concerned about dribbles, attempting nine and completing just two, and instead prefers to take up goalscoring positions far more effectively than the BVB wide man. Seven of Gnabry's 13 shots have hit the target, while he has already had 40 touches in the opposition box - way beyond Sancho's 24.

On the other hand, Sane, who tries 5.1 dribbles per 90, perhaps provides a greater direct comparison with Sancho, but he has two goals and two assists, despite playing just four games, and creates 3.1 chances per 90.

Bayern's new signing has been involved in a goal every 58 minutes, ranking fourth in the league among those to play 100 minutes or more.

Indeed, while so off colour, Sancho is not even Dortmund's leading man.

Gio Reyna played in the one league game his team-mate missed - BVB's 4-0 win over Freiburg, their biggest of the season - and supplied a hat-trick of assists, while the teenager is also off the mark in terms of goals.