The talk of Jadon Sancho Liverpool has heightened in the past few days.
The 19 year old England international winger joined Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City in the summer of 2017 and, after making his Bundesliga debut in January 2018, has established himself as one of the most exciting young talents in Europe at the Westfalenstadion.
Sancho excelled in the 18/19 season, his first full senior campaign, assisting goals a monstrous 17 times in the Bundesliga, as well as netting on 12 occasions.
The youngster has been similarly effective this season, contributing 5 goals and 7 assists in 11 league games despite the inconsistency of his team, who find themselves fifth in the league table as well as third in their Champions League group.
Despite Sancho still producing good performances for Der BVB, rumours of him falling out with head coach Lucien Favre continue to circulate.
This deterioration in relationship between player and coach has lead to speculation that the 19 year old — linked to, among others, Real Madrid and Manchester United — may even look to leave the club in January.
Jan Åge Fjørtoft, the former footballer turned pundit and television journalist, took to Twitter on Monday(December 2nd) to declare Liverpool the favourites to clinch Sancho’s signature.
The former Swindon and Sheffield United striker said: “From a very good source in Germany: Klopp and Liverpool favorite to get Dortmund-player Sancho. Sancho wants to leave the club already in January.”
If the Norwegian’s source proves to be accurate, then Liverpool could add another weapon to their attacking playbook with Sancho offering a fresh, differing impetus.
Versatile, the former Watford and Manchester City youth player is capable of playing off either flank but it is the possibility of him playing as a right side, traditional, chalk on the boots winger that could appeal to the Reds.
Trends in football are cyclical and for many years — thanks to the success of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery at Bayern Munich and, to a lesser extent, Lionel Messi at Barcelona — it was popular for clubs to use wingers on their “wrong” side. Right footed wide players would play off the left and vice versa, with the idea being it would create better angles for them to shoot when cutting in on their stronger feet.
Manchester City have gone against the grain of convention in recent years, however, playing Leroy Sane on the left and Raheem Sterling on the right, with the idea of stretching the pitch and making more room infield for their creative midfielders to push higher up the pitch. Their full backs, who play inverted, then fill the space a midfielder would usually play in and create a numerical advantage in the engine room.
Liverpool could borrow this tactical ploy off their title rivals for the right hand side of their attack, in the event they sign Sancho.
Trent Alexander Arnold is not an atypical right back. The young Scouser is, for all intents and purposes, a midfielder playing at full back and the synergy between him and Sancho could help add a new dimension to an already potent attacking force.
From playing together for England, there is already a burgeoning on field relationship between both players and having the 11 times English capped player on the right wing, would create room in field for Alexander Arnold — who has already registered five Premier League assists this season — to pull attacking strings.
The West Derby native could push even further up the pitch with the insurance policy of having Fabinho in the defensive midfield slot. The Brazilian, formerly a right back, has the game intelligence and experience as a full back to fill into the full back slot when Alexander Arnold bombs on and would ensure defensive assurance and coverage.
Since Mohamed Salah joined the Anfield side in the summer of 2017, the Reds have employed their wide forwards narrow and their full backs wide. If Sancho, as rumoured, was to sign it would mean they could switch the point of attack on the right hand side, having the right forward wide and the full back narrow and retain the tactical status quo on the left.
With Sadio Mane and Andrew Robertson offering their usual trait of the full back providing the width and the forward cutting in on the left, and, hypothetically, Alexander Arnold and Sancho doing the opposite on the right there would be a variety to Liverpool’s attack that would be extremely hard to defend against.
Sancho and Robertson would provide the width and Mane and Alexander Arnold could play infield, with any of the four players also adept as going wide on the outside or driving through the heart of the pitch. Man marking against such a layered attack would be the stuff of nightmares.
The Englishman of Trinidadian origin joining could also give Jurgen Klopp the scope to switch to his favoured 4231 shape with Mohamed Salah reverting to the centre forward role and Roberto Firmino slotting in as the number 10.
Having a winger like Sancho occupying a full back, the explosively quick Egyptian could be afforded a level of space he is not given with teams dedicating two and sometimes three players to marking him when he plays as the right sided wide forward. With such a quick centre forward, there will also be the benefit of keeping opposition teams penned in as the speedy threat in behind their defensive line will make them wary of playing a high line.
Whether directly or indirectly, the Englishman joining the European Champions could add a new tactical element that would see an already brilliant team improve even further.