Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos' future appears no closer to being sorted.

Ramos, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season and reportedly turned down a one-year deal from Madrid.

And the Spain international's future remains uncertain.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS, REAL MADRID NEGOTIATIONS AT A STANDSTILL

Negotiations between Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos are at a standstill, according to Le 10 Sport.

Amid the uncertainty over his future, Ramos has been linked with numerous European giants.

But Telefoot reported there had been no contact between Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Starting to find form again for Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho is set to be the subject of transfer speculation ahead of 2021-22. But Sky Sports reports talks about a move for the reported Manchester United target are unlikely in January, with an off-season switch possible.

- PSG seem keen to land Dele Alli in January. Fabrizio Romano claims the midfielder is pushing to join the Ligue 1 giants on loan and Mauricio Pochettino's PSG will not give up on a deal.

- Milan appear set to add depth to their squad. The Serie A leaders have agreed a deal with former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, according to CalcioMercato.

- Staying at Milan and they are also reportedly set to land Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea. Romano says Tomori is set to join on loan with an option to buy for €30million (£26.7m).

Where will Erling Haaland be playing in 2021-22?

The Borussia Dortmund forward has a long list of admirers, particularly in England.

Both Manchester clubs want Haaland, though City fancy their chances.

 

TOP STORY – CITY BELIEVE THEY HOLD HAALAND EDGE OVER UTD

Manchester City are hoping to use their Jadon Sancho sell-on clause to beat neighbours Manchester United to the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to The Sun.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked to the likes of City, United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool following his exploits for Dortmund.

City have a 15 per cent sell-on clause following Sancho's move to Dortmund in 2017 and they believe it could help in their Haaland pursuit, with the Premier League giants open to waiving or renegotiating the clause.

Sancho was tipped to join United ahead of the 2020-21 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- French journalist Julien Laurens doubts Paris Saint-Germain will be able to afford Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to PSG, City and Inter but Laurens feels the Ligue 1 champions will not be able to financially accommodate Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Atletico Madrid are poised to prise Moussa Dembele from Lyon, reports Fabrizio Romano. After Diego Costa's exit, Atletico are set to complete a loan deal with the option to buy.

- Le10Sport claims Manchester United are set to rival PSG for the signing of Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

- The Telegraph says Napoli are keen on signing Arsenal full-back Kieran Tierney. The Serie A side were keen on the Scotland international before he swapped Celtic for Arsenal in 2019.

Borussia Dortmund denied RB Leipzig top spot in the Bundesliga as Erling Haaland reignited his team's title ambitions with two goals in a 3-1 win at the Red Bull Arena.

Bayern Munich's dramatic collapse against Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday left them vulnerable at the summit, only for bitter rivals Dortmund to do them a favour.

After a cagey first half, Haaland stole the show, helping to create Jadon Sancho's opener before heading home the England winger's cross.

Haaland dispatched his 19th goal of the season across all competitions six minutes from time, though Alexander Sorloth beat Roman Burki at the second attempt to register a consolation for Leipzig, who remain two points behind Bayern after their nine-match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga came to a halt.

Jadon Sancho was once top of Manchester United 's wish list but now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to move for the Borussia Dortmund star's teammate  Erling Haaland .

Solskjaer had solidified his position at United heading into the January window following a 10-match unbeaten run and the Norwegian manager is determined to recruit his countryman.

After tracking ex-Manchester City youth product Sancho before the season, United are ready to switch their attention to Haaland, with reports suggesting he has a £70million release clause.


TOP STORY – UNITED TO SWITCH ATTENTION TO HAALAND AND CASH IN ON POGBA

The Mirror report Solskjaer is so keen on Haaland, he flew to Salzburg and attempted to hijak the goalscoring sensation’s move to Dortmund last January.

Real Madrid are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with David Alaba, while Manchester United are expecting the asking price for Jadon Sancho to drop.

Alaba, 28, is set to leave Bayern Munich with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

The defender is free to speak to other clubs, and Madrid are making their move.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CLOSE TO ALABA SIGNING

Real Madrid are close to landing Bayern Munich defender Alaba on a four-year deal, according to Marca.

Alaba is likely to have offers from multiple clubs after establishing himself as one of Europe's leading defenders.

The Austria international has won nine Bundesliga titles and two Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Bayern.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Jadon Sancho yet to hit top form for Borussia Dortmund this season, Manchester United may be able to land the attacker later this year. 90min reports United believe they can land Sancho for less than £100million (€112.7m) after not meeting Dortmund's valuation of £107m (€120m) in the close season.

- Lionel Messi's future remains a major talking point. Sport reports the Barcelona star – who is out of contract at the end of the campaign – will wait until the end of the season to decide between the LaLiga giants, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and MLS.

- Real Madrid are apparently eyeing a replacement for Marcelo. AS reports the LaLiga giants are tracking Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes, who is also linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Juventus and PSG.

- Liverpool are also linked with centre-backs after long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while potential exits have been mentioned. However, the Liverpool Echo reports the Premier League giants are not expecting any senior departures in January, which would mean Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi remain despite speculation over their futures.

Mats Hummels let out a laugh of indignation as Stuttgart scored their fifth and final goal in Saturday's 5-1 trouncing of Borussia Dortmund, the defender left at a loss as the visitors claimed a remarkable victory.

But there was no such reaction from Lucien Favre, as Dortmund's coach half-heartedly greeted a couple of his players and coaching staff before disappearing down the tunnel in sheepish fashion, wearing an almost gaunt expression.

Perhaps he knew what was coming – at the very least he will have had a suspicion given he called the loss a "disaster" in his post-match news conference.

It proved to be Favre's final match in charge as a run of three successive Bundesliga home defeats proved the final straw for the club's hierarchy, who dismissed the Swiss manager on Sunday after two and a half years in charge.

But while Favre's spell ends on a sour note, he helped build a team with great potential, one that his former assistant Edin Terzic – appointed as interim head coach until the end of the season – will feel he can mould into a real force with time.

With Favre at the helm, Dortmund signed or brought through an impressive array of youth stars, as we have explored…

Erling Haaland, 20

The current holder of the Golden Boy award, Haaland has established himself as one of the world's most lethal strikers over the past 18 months, first impressing with Salzburg before joining up with Dortmund late last December.

He has scored 23 goals in as many Bundesliga appearances this year, just five strikes fewer than the favourite for the Best FIFA Men's Player award, Robert Lewandowski. Haaland's 46 per cent conversion rate (excluding blocks) is significantly better than the Pole's 35 per cent, however, while he also last month became the quickest to reach 15 Champions League goals in the competition's history.

It remains to be seen how long Dortmund can keep hold of him, but there's no doubt he flourished under Favre and will be key for Terzic once he returns from injury in the New Year.

 

Jadon Sancho, 20

Sancho was signed by Dortmund pre-Favre and enjoyed his initial breakthrough under Peter Stoger, but it was in 2018-19 – under the club's new Swiss coach – when he truly announced himself, winning his first Bundesliga Player of the Month award in the October thanks to a haul of three goals and an assist in three games.

In February this year, when still only 19, Sancho became the first teenager to reach 25 Bundesliga goals, while he made 29 open-play assists in the competition during Favre's reign.

As with Haaland, it seems unlikely Sancho will be with Dortmund in the long term, but in the right conditions, they could be a pair capable of inspiring teams to European success.

For now, though, Terzic will be focused on getting the best out of the England international – he's not scored once in nine Bundesliga outings this term.

 

Giovanni Reyna, 18

A real gem – anyone who has watched Reyna in action will surely be filled with excitement. The 18-year-old attacking midfielder has a playing style and demeanour that resembles Brazil and Milan great Kaka, and he is already having an impact at first-team level having been given his debut by Favre in January.

The American then became the first 17-year-old to record three assists in a single Bundesliga match since records began in 1992 during Dortmund's 4-0 victory over Freiburg in October – two were well-weighted throughballs for Erling Haaland, the other a pinpoint set-piece delivery.

Reyna signed a new five-year deal recently and looks set to torment Bundesliga defences for many seasons to come.

Jude Bellingham, 17

A classy attack-minded midfielder, Bellingham was a sizeable investment in pre-season, arriving from Birmingham City where he had become a key player despite his age. Some still expected him to initially move into Dortmund's second team, but Favre's belief in the teenager was made clear.

He has already featured nine times in the Bundesliga and became Dortmund's youngest ever goalscorer (17 years, 77 days) when netting a fine debut effort against Duisburg in the DFB-Pokal earlier this season.

Already an England international, Bellingham is another talent who appears capable of defining an era at Dortmund if they can keep hold of him.

Youssoufa Moukoko, 16

The jewel in the crown? Perhaps it's too early to make such judgements, but it's fair to say Favre had been excited about Moukoko long before making him the Bundesliga's youngest ever player a day after his 16th birthday in November. He then broke the same record in the Champions League.

A Germany youth international, Moukoko smashed all sorts of records in Dortmund's youth teams, such as netting 34 times in 20 games in the Bundesliga's youth division and scoring in the UEFA Youth League when he was just 14.

Moukoko has looked lively in his four Bundesliga cameos this season and might even be entrusted with a first start by Terzic in the absence of Haaland.

Given the ease he took to every other level he has played at, few would bet against Moukoko continuing that trend in the top tier.

Lionel Messi reportedly remains a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi, 33, is contracted at Barcelona until the end of the season, having stayed at the club after sensationally requesting to leave earlier this year.

With uncertainty still surrounding his future, the Barcelona star is apparently wanted by PSG.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EXPLORING POSSIBILITY OF SIGNING MESSI

PSG are exploring the possibility of signing Barcelona star Messi, according to ESPN.

Along with Manchester City and Inter, PSG have been among the clubs most heavily linked with a move for the Argentina international.

The report says Neymar and sporting director Leonardo have discussed bringing Messi to PSG.

It comes just days after Neymar said he wanted to play with Messi again and was keen for it to happen "next season".

 

ROUND-UP

- Still linked with Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Manchester United could look elsewhere. The Sun reports United are eyeing Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes as a possible alternative.

- Staying at Manchester United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been under some pressure. Bild reports the Premier League giants are interested in PSG coach Thomas Tuchel if they decide to sack Solskjaer.

- With Christian Eriksen seemingly set for an exit, Inter are considering their midfield transfer targets. CalcioMercato reports Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante remains Inter's dream signing, but Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum is also an option with his contract expiring at the end of the season. However, the report also says Inter could challenge Liverpool for the signing of Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma.

- Also at Liverpool, the Premier League champions are reportedly still eyeing a centre-back amid their injury woes. Bild reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano is on their list, as is his 21-year-old team-mate Ibrahima Konate.

- Atlanta United could be close to appointing a new coach. TyC Sports says former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Argentina defender Gabriel Heinze, most recently in charge of Velez Sarsfield, is a step away from taking over at the MLS club.

Jadon Sancho will break out of his form slump and get back to his best for Borussia Dortmund, according to sporting director Michael Zorc.

After an incredible 2019-20 season during which he scored 20 goals and provided 19 assists in 44 games, Sancho has battled to begin this campaign.

In 12 games, the England international has netted three times and provided four assists, and he is yet to open his account in the Bundesliga.

Speaking ahead of Dortmund's trip to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, Zorc backed the attacker.

"I believe it is easy to see that he is not in the best of form," he told a news conference.

"I can tell he tries hard when he's subbed onto the pitch. He tries to force the lightness and fluidity that he has onto himself.

"Jadon is a player who doesn't talk a lot but who delivers answers on the pitch. Whether this is tomorrow, in a week or at some other point, I don't know.

"What I do know is that it will happen."

Still linked with a move to Manchester United, Sancho is being presented with fewer chances at Dortmund.

His big chance total per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season is 0.33 – the lowest since his debut in Germany's top flight in 2017.

However, Sancho is having more shots (2.15 per 90 minutes) and shots from inside the box (1.49) than in any other season.

His 38.78 successful passes in the opposition half per 90 minutes is also his highest, as are his 64.14 passes, but his chances created are well down at 1.82. He managed 2.71 per 90 last season.

With Erling Haaland sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Dortmund – who are fourth in the Bundesliga table – will be hoping Sancho can recapture his goalscoring form to finish 2020.

It is crunch time in the Champions League as the group stage enters the penultimate round of fixtures.

Sevilla and Chelsea are already assured of football in Europe's top club competition in the new year, as are Juventus and Barcelona, but there is still plenty to be decided as teams jostle for position and players – including Cristiano Ronaldo – chase down individual records.

Paris Saint-Germain are among those whose fate hangs in the balance, while matchday five opponents Manchester United are still in need of a point.

We break down Wednesday's key matchday fixtures with the use of Opta data.

 

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain: Tuchel's men seeking win at fortress Old Trafford

PSG are in desperate need of a positive result at Old Trafford and the omens are good for Thomas Tuchel's charges, with the away team winning all three previous European games between the sides.

However, Group H leaders United have won their last seven home matches in continental competiiton, scoring 24 goals and conceding only two – their best return since a run of 12 wins in a row ending in April 2008.

Ligue 1 champions PSG scored in 38 of their 39 matches since the start of 2016-17, netting an average of 2.4 goals per game, with Bayern Munich the only team to stop them scoring during that run in last season's final.

Sevilla v Chelsea: Blues out to end Spain pain

Sevilla and Chelsea have already qualified for the last 16 but a win for one of these sides will see them secure top spot in Group E. The hosts have not advanced as group winners since 2009-10 while Chelsea last did so in 2015-16.

Frank Lampard's side have won only one of their last 10 games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League and are winless in six such matches. Sevilla, meanwhile, are unbeaten in seven against English sides in European competition – they beat United in the Europa League semi-finals last term.

Sevilla are also without defeat after four group matches for the third time in the Champions League, having previously done so in 2009-10 and 2016-17, but never before have they begun a campaign with five unbeaten games.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Lazio: Sancho seeking another European goal

Anything other than defeat will send Dortmund through to the knockouts and history suggests there is a good chance of that happening.

In the three previous encounters between these sides in major European competition, the home side has always come out on top.

Lazio have won only one of their previous seven encounters away to German opposition – a 2-0 win against Stuttgart in the 2012-13 Europa League – while Dortmund are unbeaten in their last eight home Champions League group games.

Jadon Sancho has scored in his last two Champions League games and, at the age of 20 years and 252 days, he could become the second-youngest Englishman to score in three successive games in the competition after Alan Smith with Leeds United in 2000-01 (20y, 158d).

Ferencvaros v Barcelona: Koeman's men hungry for a clean sweep

A place in the last 16 already assured, Barcelona are now seeking a fifth straight win to begin a group-stage campaign for the first time since 2002-03, when they won six from six.

Barca have won all five of their previous encounters with Hungarian opposition, including a 5-1 victory in the reverse fixture, which was notable for being the only Champions League match ever to see two players aged under 18 to score (Ansu Fati and Pedri).

Fati has since been ruled out with a long-term injury, though Martin Braithwaite profited with two goals on his first start in the competition against Dynamo Kiev – not since David Villa in 2010 has a Barca player scored in their first two Champions League starts.

 

Juventus v Dynamo Kiev: Down-and-out Dynamo out to avoid Ronaldo repeat

Third place is the best Dynamo can hope for and they enter this match with just one win to their name in 12 Champions League games, losing the last two of those. Not since 2007-08 have they lost three or more on the spin.

Juve are battling with Barca for top spot and have lost only two of their 26 home group-stage matches, albeit with that defeat coming against the Catalan giants in October.

Ronaldo has scored three goals in two previous meetings with Dynamo in UEFA's flagship competition.

Should he score on Wednesday it will be 13 years and 25 days after his last goal against them, in 2007 – the longest gap between goals for one player against a single side.

Other fixtures:

Krasnodar v Rennes

1 – This will be Rennes' first away game against Russian opponents in European competition. Krasnodar have hosted French side twice previously, drawing 1-1 with Lille and beating Nice 5-2, both in the Europa League.

24 – The visitors have used 24 different players in the Champions League this season – only Barca (25) have used more – yet only one of them has registered a goal in their first four matches.


Club Brugge v Zenit

2 – Brugge won the reverse fixture against Zenit 2-1 but have only won home and away against the same opponent twice before in the group stage – against CSKA Moscow in 1992-93 and Rapid Vienna in 2005-06.

12 – The Belgian side are winless in their last 12 Champions League home games. Only Basel, who have failed to win any of their last 13, have a worse such record.


Istanbul Basaksehir v RB Leipzig 

1 – German teams have lost only one of their last 14 games against Turkish opposition in major European competition. However, that solitary loss was inflicted on Leipzig by Besiktas in their only previous such match in the Champions League.

5 – Leipzig have been awarded five penalties in the competition since the start of last season, behind only Chelsea (7). All five have been converted.

Jude Bellingham described star Borussia Dortmund team-mate Erling Haaland as "a joke" after breaking a Champions League record.

Haaland became the quickest player to 15 Champions League goals in the competition's history after opening the scoring in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Club Brugge.

The 2020 Golden Boy winner, who already set a similar record for the five- and 10-goal marks, finished with a brace as he took his tally to 16 through 12 games in the Champions League, surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roberto Soldado with seven matches to spare.

"The guy is incredible. Six goals in his last two games and I'm sure many more before that," Dortmund midfielder Bellingham said via UEFA.com.

"He's a joke. Right now he's one of the best strikers in the world and he's fantastic to play with."

Jadon Sancho teed up Haaland's 18th-minute opener before the Norway forward – who netted four times in the 5-2 Bundesliga rout of Hertha Berlin – claimed his second of the Group F fixture on the hour-mark.

Haaland has 10 goals through seven Bundesliga matches this season, and 17 across all competitions in 2020-21 – including a Champions League-high six strikes.

Sancho struck in between Haaland's double, becoming the first Englishman to score a direct free-kick in the Champions League while playing for a non-English side since David Beckham for Real Madrid in 2005.

"I'm just happy to be playing with him," Sancho said. "He's an incredible player. He contributes greatly on the pitch and I was happy to assist him today.

"Recently he got the Golden Boy award and I'm very happy for him because he deserves it for how hard he works. He’s a fantastic player."

Dortmund – who recorded their 200th, 201st and 202nd goals in the Champions League, making them the 13th club to record the milestone – top Group F through four matchdays, a point ahead of Lazio.

Borussia Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre is confident Jadon Sancho will recapture his best form after scoring in Tuesday's win over Club Brugge.

Sancho became the first Englishman to score a direct free-kick in the Champions League while playing for a non-English side since David Beckham for Real Madrid in 2005.

The forward has been unable to live up to the standards he set last season, when he scored 20 goals and provided 19 assists in 44 games in all competitions.

Sancho's goal against Brugge was his third of the campaign, to go with four assists, in 10 games.

Favre was happy to see the 20-year-old – who was heavily linked with Manchester United during the previous transfer window – on the scoresheet and believes he will get back to his best.

"Of course, I'm really happy that he scored again. A very beautiful goal from a direct free-kick. We have a few players who can do that. He did it really, really well," he told a news conference.

"His goal has relieved us. A two-goal cushion coming one minute from the break was important, that was good for all of us.

"All over, he played really well, ran a lot. But I repeat, it is normal, a player cannot always be in his best shape. Sometimes it's like this, then like that."

Favre added: "I stayed very calm, just like my colleagues. We know what our players are like.

"Sometimes I say that they cannot be in their best form all year. That’s impossible. Last season was special for Jadon. Of course, he should digest that. But he will come back bit by bit."

Erling Haaland scored either side of Sancho's free-kick as Dortmund moved onto nine points, enough to sit top of Group F.

Haaland scored his 15th and 16th Champions League goals in only his 12th appearance, the fewest it has taken for a player to reach 15 goals in the competition.

England warmed up for their upcoming Nations League double-header by cruising to a 3-0 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland at Wembley.

Harry Maguire and Jadon Sancho were on target in the first half of Thursday's encounter, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin's emphatic penalty completing a routine outing after the break.

Manager Gareth Southgate will now have plenty to think about after a strong showing from a number of England's fringe players prior to matches with Belgium and Iceland.

The visitors' hopes of earning a first ever Wembley win were dealt a blow when John Egan was forced off early on after taking a bang to the head.

Ireland probed with a couple of dangerous low crosses but England hit the front from a corner that resulted from Darren Randolph saving smartly from Bukayo Saka following an initial poor punch.

Harry Winks picked up the first clearance and stood up a cross for Maguire to power home with his head.

Calvert-Lewin then went close at the end of a slick move and Randolph saved from Maguire before the lively Jack Grealish fed Sancho, who lashed home England's second through the legs of Jeff Hendrick.

England picked up where they left off in the second half, pressing Ireland high before Saka was tripped in the box by Cyrus Christie.

And Calvert-Lewin made no mistake from the spot, hammering the ball into the top corner for the second goal of his short international career.

With the hosts in complete control late on, Southgate introduced Jude Bellingham from the bench, making him the third youngest England player of all-time.


What does it mean? Southgate given headache

The wisdom of playing these international friendlies has been questioned in recent weeks, but there is no doubt that Southgate learned more about the depth at his disposal this evening.

There is nothing better for a manager than to see fringe players stepping up in the absence of key men and that is exactly what happened for England here. Southgate is facing a very welcome headache.

Grealish makes case once again

It once felt like there was nothing Grealish could do to get into the England squad, but just two caps in he already looks a dead cert for inclusion in the Euros squad next summer. 

The Aston Villa man was influential again here, taking 50 touches, completing 88.9% of passes in the opposition half, and making two key passes - including the assist for Sancho's goal.

Idah isolated up top

Starting up front for the visitors at Wembley, Adam Idah would have hoped to make much more of an impact before his withdrawal in the 71st minute.

The 19-year-old touched the ball just 18 times, and won only one of his five duels.

What's next?

England travel to Belgium for a Nations League fixture on Sunday, while Ireland's next outing in the same competition sees them face Wales away from home.

Could Cristiano Ronaldo's time in Turin be coming to an end?

Ronaldo is contracted to Juventus until 2022 but the Italian giants are believed to be willing to part with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Neymar could be his direct replacement.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO OUT, NEYMAR IN?

Juventus are keen to swap Cristiano Ronaldo for Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar, according to TuttoMercatoWeb.

Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Serie A champions Juve, while Neymar's future has often dominated headlines amid speculation over a Barcelona return.

But the superstar pair could be involved in a blockbuster swap deal as both players are on similar contracts.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims Athletic Bilbao are eyeing former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, with the future of current head coach Gaizka Garitano uncertain. Pochettino has been linked to Manchester United.

Milan are targeting a January move for Schalke defender and Liverpool target Ozan Kabak, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Hellas Verona's Matteo Lovato is an alternative, while the Rossoneri are also eyeing Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram. The French forward has been linked to the likes of Juve, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City.

- Zinedine Zidane remains determined to bring Eduardo Camavinga to Madrid, however, Mundo Deportivo says the France sensation will not leave Rennes for below €100million.

- According to Manchester Evening News, United could rekindle their interest in Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish amid his dazzling form. Grealish and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho were both linked with Old Trafford moves during the previous transfer window.

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.
 

WHAT'S CHANGED?

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.
 

HEAD TURNED? OR GETTING GREEDY?

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.
 

COMPARED WITH BAYERN'S BEST

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.

Jadon Sancho's recent dip in form could have been caused by the incessant transfer speculation surrounding him during pre-season, according to Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre. 

Sancho was the subject of intense transfer rumours in the close-season as Manchester United reportedly attempted to prise the England international away. 

Dortmund maintained early on that Sancho was not for sale once an August deadline passed, and they successfully resisted United's apparent attempts to make a deal happen. 

But, while no move transpired, Favre suggests it was not a case of no harm being done. 

Sancho has only had a hand in two goals (two assists) in four Bundesliga matches at the start of 2020-21, a somewhat disappointing figure by his usual standards.

Favre believes the pre-season saga could have affected him. 

"Every player has slow periods," he said ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Zenit. 

"There was a lot of talk about Jadon in the summer, something like that can also have an impact. 

"But no player is consistently in top form for an entire year, that's impossible. You have to accept that." 

Last season, Sancho created a total of 69 goal-scoring chances in the Bundesliga, ultimately leading to 16 assists. He also scored 17 times, meaning he was involved in 33 goals in 32 games. 

While his key pass frequency was 2.71 per 90 minutes in 2019-20, that has only decreased slightly to 2.04 this term, therefore he is still creating opportunities. 

Nevertheless, Sancho is already behind in regards to his overall productivity in comparison to the previous season.

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