While Jadon Sancho will undoubtedly cost Manchester United a large fee should his move to Old Trafford materialise, that money will be money well spent if the 20-year has the transformational impact on the team fans are envisaging.
Sancho is quick, skilful, tactically astute, versatile and above all else, extremely dangerous in the final third. In the Bundesliga alone last season, he directly contributed to 34 goals.
His all-round attacking capabilities are superbly illustrated in the below graph which ranks Sancho against other attacking midfielders from across Europe’s top five leagues.
One interesting thing to note about his attacking numbers this season is how they were often markedly better in the second half than the first.
This is highlighted in the below visualisation which compares Sancho’s averages in terms of Expected goal contributions (xC) per 90 from the first half of matches compared to the second (the figure for Expected goal contributions is calculated by combining the numbers for expected goals and expected assists).
Since September of last season, the 20-year-old’s xC averaged out at 0.37 per 90 in the first half, while in the second that average dramatically increased to 1.03 per 90. What all of this means in basic terms is that he is taking more dangerous shots and creating more high-quality chances in the second half of matches.
It’s a similar story for his shots per 90 record which increases from 0.89 in the first half to 3.01 in the second half, and for his goal contributions, going from 0.56 to 1.91 after the break.
It’s not entirely clear why this is the case. One reason could be that Dortmund manager Lucien Favre prefers his side to adopt a more cautious approach in the opening 45 minutes of matches, feeling out an opponent before looking to up the attacking ante in the second half.
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This would seem to tally with Dortmund’s goal-scoring numbers from the campaign, with 68 per cent of all their league strikes coming in the second half of matches. As part of this plan, Favre could be instructing Sancho to play a marginally more reserved game in the first half, before pushing him to increase his attacking output in the second as opposing sides being to tire.
Even if those figures are influenced by Dortmund’s tactics, though, it’s still good news for United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be able to utilise the 20-year-old in a similar way or he will at the very least know that the attacker remains highly effective until the final whistle, without any drop in standard as other players traditionally begin to tire.