Man Utd: Jadon Sancho in profile
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With Marcus Rashford now out until October for Manchester United, they’re primed to gamble with Jadon Sancho. A right winger by trade, the Red Devils would normally deploy him in his natural position. But they’re now set to take a risk by fielding him on the opposite flank instead.
In January 2020, Rashford picked up a shoulder injury in a 1-0 FA Cup win over Wolves.
And though he was able to return in time for the end of the Premier League season, he’s been playing through the pain ever since.
On Tuesday, news broke the England international – who missed a penalty in his country’s agonising Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy – would be out until October.
And that’s now set to lead to some tinkering behind the scenes.
Also on Tuesday, United welcomed Sancho to their Carrington training complex for the very first time – with the player arriving in a blacked out car for his medical.
His unveiling is set to take place later in the week and the Red Devils are delighted with the deal, believing he can solve their problems on the right wing in the coming years ahead.
While that’s the case, however, they’re now set to gamble by deploying him on the opposite flank.
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United want to give Mason Greenwood every opportunity possible to show he’s got what it takes to evolve into a superstar, having enjoyed a fine end to last season.
So it’s Greenwood who is likely start on the right when the Red Devils lock horns with Leeds in their Premier League opener on August 7.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the 19-year-old has all the qualities to be one of the club’s best-ever players, regularly talking up his potential.
But while Greenwood on the right makes sense, Sancho on the left means they’ll be throwing the dice.
Though capable of operating on both sides of the attack – he initially played on the opposite side when breaking onto the scene at Dortmund – they still risk giving him too big a challenge right away.
United have, after all, signed Sancho to solve their problems in an area they’ve struggled ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid in 2009.
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And deploying him on the left is also a gamble because of what it means for other players at the club.
Anthony Martial can be forgiven for seeing an opening back into the team in the wake of Rashford’s injury, with the 25-year-old unlikely to get too many opportunities down the middle.
Yet if they play Sancho in his favoured left wing position (other than down the middle), they risk making the player unhappy.
That’s what happened when Alexis Sanchez joined from Arsenal in January 2018.
And United, in playing Sancho on the other wing, are also gambling when it comes to Paul Pogba.
Pogba enjoyed some of his best-ever form for United playing there last season, despite being a central midfielder by trade.
It’s where his creativity was allowed to shine through, with a fantastic performance in a 3-1 win over Tottenham in north London particularly standout.
And, in moving Pogba back into the flat two Solskjaer likes to deploy in the centre of the field, they chance stifling his immense talent.
Regarding Rashford, meanwhile, the England star apologised on Monday for his penalty miss against Italy.
“I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I am feeling at this exact time,” he said.
“I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence.
“I’ve always backed myself for a penalty, but something didn’t feel quite right.
“During the long run-up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted.
“I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I’d let everyone down.
“A penalty was all I’d been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep, so why not that one? It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to quite describe how it feels.
“Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of gone differently.”
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