Despite the fact Borussia Dortmund have quite clearly said that Jadon Sancho is not for sale, Manchester United still seem determined to make the England international their record-ever transfer – even if it means spending £100m+ to get him.
That got us thinking – surely they are other talented players who are very similar to Sancho in their outputs that could be far better value for United to sign this window?
We used Total Football Analysis Pro’s xGOLD tool to crunch some numbers and see who else should be on United’s shortlist – after all, Ole’s made some smart signings since he’s been at the wheel and there is no reason to start overspending now, right?
First of all, let’s take a look at Sancho’s profile.
The way to read these charts, and the radars you will see later, is that the higher the number, the higher the player places compared to everyone else in his league – so, if he is around 85, it means he is in the 85th percentile in the league (and that folks, that is very good indeed).
So, if you are looking for an attacking option that is above average compared to everyone else in his league, Jadon Sancho is a decent shout – look at his passing and progression.
Admittedly, Sancho doesn’t seem to be too active in his defensive output – and with Ole loving his players to press frenetically from the front is this exactly what he is looking for?
Anyway, now we know what we are comparing to let’s see what xGOLD suggested as three other interesting options.
The way xGOLD is that it scours the globe (yes, even down to the French 5th division) to find the players who match Sancho’s profile from a metrical point of view – it then gives us the shortlist of suggestions and the three players we are about to suggest are what the computer told us. We will leave it to you to decide whether you think the players are interesting or not based on the videos below.
#3 Giovanni Reyna
Whoa there. Is xGOLD suggesting that United are after the wrong Dortmund youngster? Well, it’s certainly something to consider. As you can see from the viz above, Reyna is already performing to a very high level when he is on the pitch. Granted, these numbers are based off a small sample size – just 396 minutes – but you can immediately see some potential here.
When it comes to the attacking and creativity output, once more you can see the potential in Reyna. There are enough similarities here to understand why xGOLD has thrown Reyna up as the 3rd best match to Sancho globally based on his outputs. He is already in the top tier for successful dribbles in the Bundesliga and United haven’t had someone like that since the days of Ryan Giggs.
Here you can see the similarities in so much of their game as well – Sancho clearly has better outputs in many areas, but take into account that Reyna is 17 which less than 400 minutes of Bundesliga game time. There is a lot to like here and it won’t cost you £100m+
I warn you now, you will see a theme here with each of the three players xGOLD has thrown up – they all do a bit more defensively than England international Sancho.
Watch Reyna in action here:
#2 Josip Brekalo – Wolfsburg
We are sensing a little BuliBias here from xGOLD – but it makes sense.
Brekalo is off the back of a very good season for Wolfsburg and his outputs are very impressive. Let’s see how he compares directly to Sancho in the radars below.
Again, you can see the similar shapes which tells us there is a similar playing style in terms of output – don’t forget, we are looking for the closest match, not an exact match to Jadon Sancho. There is enough here to pass the eye-test at this stage.
As you can see, once again there are clear similarities in some key metrics – Brekalo is right up there on the smart passes percentile, gets more passes into the final 3rd – albeit it with less accuracy overall.
As previously stated, no real surprise here – Brekalo offers more to a side defensively than Sancho.
Watch Brekalo in action:
#1 Jens Petter Hauge
And here he is – the player that xGOLD suggests is the best match to Jadon Sancho in world football right now (from the metrics point of view).
You cannot fail to be impressed with Hauge’s percentiles above – and let’s be honest, United have form of making a clever signing or two from Norway.
Hauge is easily the closest match to Sancho so far – and has the added benefit of being a more successful dribbler to date. His xG/shot ratio percentile is far from shabby too.
In terms of passing and progression, Hauge actually outperforms Sancho which is mightily impressive. It is worth pointing out that xGOLD cleverly weights the metrics so when we compare the Eliteserien numbers to Bundesliga numbers we are actually comparing apples to apples.
Once more, Hauge’s radar matches the shape of Sancho’s – it’s just much more impressive!
Watch Jens Petter Hauge in action:
Having watched all three players, which one do you think would be a better option for United if Dortmund remain set-in-stone that Sancho isn’t leaving?
For us, it’s hard to look past the potential bargain that is Hauge. Realistically, are Manchester United going to move for a young Norweigan that would cost sub-£10m? Probably not – but if he is not on the radar of many other lower-ranked Premier League clubs who can afford to spend £5-10m on a match-winner, then you’d have to question why.