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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Jadon Sancho has finally turned up at Manchester United – and just in time

It has taken four months, 15 appearances and a change of manager but Jadon Sancho has arrived at Manchester United.

It had been a mildly concerning start for the winger, signed for north of £70 million in July.

He is far from alone in under-performing, but given United’s recent track record as the place where talent goes to die (Alexis Sánchez, Ángel Di María, Aaron Wan-Bissaka – too soon?) fears were stirring about a similar fate for Sancho.

More than most, he has suffered from the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and his immediate occupation of one of the attacking spots, in a team over-burdened with talent at the top of the pitch.

The assumption was that Sancho would be one of the main men this season. Instead he has only started four of a possible 12 games in the Premier League, and only played for the full 90 minutes once – away at Watford on Saturday. Not the sort of game to hang a career on.

But there was another 90 minutes on Tuesday night in Villarreal which painted a far happier picture. It included his first Manchester United goal, but there was plenty of other evidence of what a fully firing Sancho can bring to his team.

Movement

Sancho began the match playing his part in United’s newly sane defensive unit, pressuring opponents usefully.

As the game settled he stationed himself on the right-hand touchline, frequently linking with Donny van de Beek then driving towards the centre of the pitch. In the 23rd minute he picked up the ball just inside his half on the touchline:

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