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Why Jadon Sancho wants to join Manchester United

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Manchester City were better at suppressing sound bites than they were internal emails. At the start of 2017, their 16-year-old rookie Jadon Sancho undertook a crash-course in media training.

"After school I would just be playing football and other people around me would be doing bad stuff and I didn't want to get in to doing that," Sancho told City TV.

"When City came along I thought it was a good opportunity to get out of the hood. There were a lot of bad influences."

The URL was removed from the City website but, in keeping with their penchant for leaving paper trails, they failed to completely cover their tracks and the video of Sancho's interview is still live on the club's YouTube page.

Sancho grew up in South London a Chelsea supporter but moving from 'the hood' to Manchester appealed to him just as much as returning to Manchester does now. Sancho enjoyed his two years in the north-west and before he left City confided in friends he could envisage himself relocating to Manchester.

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City have - or rather, had - first refusal on Sancho but his bridges with Pep Guardiola were burnt in the summer of 2017 when the teenager was omitted from the pre-season tour of the United States, where Phil Foden was subjected to first-team exposure in the Houston derby defeat to United.

Sancho was so small-fry he was not brought up in the post-match debrief where Guardiola rhapsodised about Foden, informing those of us present we were privileged to have watched him in the flesh. City sources were '100 per cent certain' Sancho would stay only he started skipping training and there were discussions over a move to Tottenham.

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Those talks collapsed and United were hovering but unable to negotiate a deal within the summer window. Borussia Dortmund spared City the embarrassment of a cross-city transfer with an £8million bid and Sancho, itching for first-team football, was assured of regular playing time.

Sancho had started 17 Bundesliga matches by the time United had reignited their interest last year and a meeting was arranged with an intermediary acting on Dortmund's behalf. Failure to qualify for the Champions League scuppered a move and United have used that time to convince Sancho.

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Senior United sources boasted of the influence of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard during England get-togethers prior to the £80m signing of Harry Maguire and entrusted that contingent with James Maddison following his call-up - before they settled on Jack Grealish.

Sancho has only started twice with Rashford and once with Lingard, often competing with or replacing them, but has struck up a friendly rapport with the duo. Lingard could make way for Sancho in the United squad yet endorsed their interest in him.

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"Jadon is a brilliant player," Lingard said last week. "It's obviously up to him. I've seen him with England, I've seen his qualities and I feel like he’d be a great addition to any team."

Sancho's Twitter post on Thursday evening was tasteful and tactful. It read: 'If we're all on the same team, we'll never be defeated' and was accompanied by a picture of Sancho celebrating with Rashford on England duty, as well as an image of schoolboys on a five-a-side pitch.

Sancho takes on United U18s in 2016

Rashford uploaded the same post verbatim as part of Nike's 'You can't stop us' campaign and generated 7,000 retweets. Sancho had 15,000. However disgruntled Dortmund might feel, the tweet covered all bases and was a canny PR move by Sancho's representatives and Nike on a day he had to report to Dortmund's training base. Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, and Bruno Fernandes also have the swoosh on their boots and Sancho regards Rashford as an 'inspiration'.

Dortmund were confident enough to brief Sancho was on the brink of signing a new deal worth £190,000-a-week last August but the printed papers went unsigned and his existing contract has ticked into the last two years. United would have no hesitation in replacing the '1' with a '2' at the start of those six figures.

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Sancho has already visited United's Carrington training complex and became friendly with former United juniors and fellow Londoners Angel Gomes and DJ Buffonge before and during his time in Manchester. United's longing for Sancho partly convinced Gomes to run down his contract.

Sancho naively requested to sport his hashtag '#JS7' after he joined Dortmund and nothing in football fuels a player's brand more than the number seven on United red. That is bequeathed to Sancho, unless he has a hankering for the number 11, and donning the seven in the Premier League and Champions League is marketing panacea for his Elite Project Group representatives.

They have been good influences.




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